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Neon Numbers (-162).

An investigation into Neon sign vernacular, aesthetics and production in Doha as part of an exploratory grant funded project.

This project began with several excursions to local markets to investigate and document neon signs as part of Doha visual culture. In the 1980’s and 90’s neon was a popular medium for small shops and vendors, but as LED became a safer and cheaper option, the neon sign industry quickly collapsed. As part of the initial phase, we also sought out local craftsmen who work with neon. To our surprise, only a couple sign making shops had the tools and equipment to construct neon signs, on only one or two employees who were skilled to do so.

In addition to the physical crafting of the neon, the intent of this project was to learn how to design a typographic neon sign, and give consideration to all the unique aspects of the material. Often times designers can simply print what is on screen to a flat medium, but neon is dimensional, it has bends and curves, and one must consider structural connections, fragile breaking points, the transformer power supply, and negative space of letterforms.

This project was initiated separately from the -162 Trading Power project, however, since both were being worked in tandem, the neon project became a useful platform to consider and test content for the potential -162 exhibition. This gave us the opportunity to use numbers as means to explore the curves and shapes of the typographic forms and consider how to redesign an existing typeface to work in a neon environment. Relative to the -162 Trading Power concept, we examined fonts found on shipping containers and LNG ships to prompt our typographic choices. The particular neon blue was chosen to visually connote the color often associated when burning natural gas.

The final outcome of the project was installed at the Doha Fire Station as part of the -162 Trading Power Exhibition.

This project was funded by an exploratory grant put forward by Michael Hersrud, Levi Hammett, Simone Muscolino and Nathan Davis.

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