To Dot or Not to Dot

A preview of our “100 Years of Design” website in honor of the AIGA’s centennial has recently gone live. The full experience, which will feature additional artifacts, interviews with legendary artists, and more, will be unveiled in January 2014, but the preview includes a design element I find especially charming: the dotless “i” in the “Lato” font chosen for this project.

Internally, we heard two different perspectives on the dotless “i.” Some on the project team were initially uncomfortable with it, others loved it. Not everyone immediately noticed the uniqueness of the font. We were drawn to the fact that such a small detail could foster debate.

This font is beautiful, clean, and elegant. And in the same stroke, it is also powerful and communicative. The goal of the type choice, and of the website design as a whole, was simple: create a minimal frame around the main canvas, leaving the entire scene to the masterpieces, quotes, oral histories, and historical moments selected by AIGA. The ultimate aim of the site is to spark conversation among AIGA’s members and beyond.

Personally, I could not have imagined a more intense, exciting, and challenging first project at Second Story (I joined as a senior interaction designer back in May). As an Italian in Portland, I found it exhilarating to work with so many important examples of American design from the past 100 years. And as much as I admire graphic elements that distract from or discourage exploration–like the grunge typography of the brilliant David Carson, whose speech during the recent Design Week Portland was intoxicating– I also enjoy design that speaks simply and clearly.

Through extraordinary teamwork, we took a minimalist approach to the AIGA website and focused on subtraction rather than addition, letting the art and artists remain at the core of the story we were telling. It was important for us to take away as much as possible while staying true to the project’s purpose. The dotless “i” is a part of that approach.

In the end, what we lose with the dot, we gain in the simple magic of the site’s design. We’re excited to reveal the finished product to the public early next year as we celebrate 100 years of design that connects, informs, assists, delights, and influences us.

— Filippo Spiezia, Senior Interaction Designer


Second Story creates enchanting, informative, and entertaining media experiences with innovative technologies that empower connections to ideas.

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