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About

Letterbox is a typographic design studio. 

Recognised internationally, our work is informed by research and engagement – we use the voice of typography to tell stories through an array of materials & processes.

The studio has written and produced more than 18 books on typography, held many type exhibitions, typographic film festivals, public forums and talks all across the world. Our typographic projects encompass a range of mediums –from ink on paper, flickering pixels, through to type built in concrete, wood, glass or tiling.

Founded by typographer, writer and academic Stephen Banham, Letterbox operates as a ‘hybridised practice model’, meaning that it combines research with professional typographic design projects. The studio began life in Northcote in 1991 in an old building that had once been a corner milk-bar. Three years later the studio moved into Carlow House, one of the key creative buildings in the then-fledgling artist community of Flinders Lane, Melbourne. The studio remained there for 14 years before moving to larger studios in Brunswick within the landmark Hardwick Building. In 2016 the studio moved to its current premises – a custom-designed 100 square metre studio, still in Brunswick.  Over the years our design team have come from a wide assortment of places – Germany, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, France and, yes, even Melbourne.

Publications Written

2019The Legible City: Stories of place told through a typographic lens.
2016Cashcow Oblique: A Typographic Survey of Economic Opportunity 1873 & 2016 publisher Letterbox
2013Cluster: Exploring the stories and patterns behind Melbourne Street Names publisher City of Melbourne
2011Characters: Cultural stories revealed through typography  publisher Thames & Hudson
2009Characters & Spaces: 17 stories in 1 city publisher State of Design Festival
2008Utopia Oblique: Creating a perfect world of type through a perfect type of world. publisher Letterbox
2004Orbit Oblique: A typographic homage to animals lost in space research. publisher Letterbox
2004Fancy – Typographic Embellishment. publisher Letterbox
2003Mixed Business – Integrating Value Systems into Graphic Design Practice (Masters by Research)
2001Ampersand 5 – Grand publisher Letterbox
2000Ampersand 4 – Assembly publisher Letterbox
1999Ampersand 3 – Convoy (Plastic Edition, Paper Edition) publisher Letterbox
1998Ampersand 2 – Rentfont publisher Letterbox
1996Ampersand 1 – Ampersand publisher Letterbox
1995Qwerty 6 – At Home with the alphabet publisher Letterbox
1995Qwerty 5 – Big Is beautiful publisher Letterbox
1994Qwerty 4 – Recession. publisher Letterbox
1993Qwerty 3 – A Shadow of its former self publisher Letterbox
1992Qwerty 2 – The Australian Vernacular publisher Letterbox
1991Qwerty 1 – For those who get their hands dirty publisher Letterbox

Articles Written

2021Global Type Tour: Review. Eye Magazine Issue 102, p53. publisher Eye
2021Little Symbols: The Typographic Landscape of Pieter Huveneers. RMIT Design Archives Journal Vol 11, 1.
2017‘On the Shoulders of Giants’, 365 Typo Book 2. publisher Typo Magazine (czech)
2017Ingredient and Method: A Survey of Geoffrey Fawcett (1926–2003) RMIT Design Archives Journal Vol 6, 2.
2016The Joy of Sets written for Letterbox then made into an interview on ABC Radio National. publisher ABC
2016Australian Typography 1986–2016 Desktop 30 Year Anniversary Issue. publisher Desktop
2016Stettler Revived 365 Typo Book 1. publisher Typo Magazine (czech)
2016Tall Storeys: Development in Graphic Design Desktop. publisher Desktop
2015A Brand in the Hand: The Design of the Morgans Directories Eye Magazine. publisher Eye
2014‘A love letter: The enormous power of letters’, ABC The Drum
201415pt (essay) publisher Meanjin Winter 2014 
2014‘Koala Sans – Australian Typography’, publisher Baseline (uk)
2013‘The Graphic Effect’, publisher Desktop 297
2013Face and Place publisher Desktop 293
2013‘The 1990s’, publisher Desktop 291
2012‘The Future of Typography’, publisher Sydney Powerhouse D*Hub
2012‘The Character of the Street’, Open, publisher Outdoor Media Association
2012Ghostfaces: Dead Typefaces publisher Desktop 283
2012After the Gig: The typography of set lists publisher Desktop 281
2012Retrospect: Look Here! publisher Desktop 280
2012‘Typeface Review: Newman, publisher Desktop 279
2011‘Typeface Review: Milosz Italic’, publisher Desktop 274
2011‘M is for Melbourne’, Qantas The Australian Way, publisher Qantas Airlines
2011‘Typeface Review: Brunswick Black’, publisher Desktop 273
2011‘Typeface Review: Tasman’, publisher Desktop 271
2011‘Architects and Typographers: So you think you’re pretty spatial’, Australian Architect, publisher raia
2011‘Typeface Review: Jones, publisher Desktop 266
2011‘Type in Australia’, Typographic 69, publisher International Society of Typographic Designers
2010Typographic Predictions for 2011′, publisher Desktop 264
2009‘Ten Vignettes’, Open Manifesto, publisher Kevin Finn
2009Wellington Extra Bold ProDesign Magazine
2008‘The Space Inbetween’, AGDA Research Journal
2006‘Accidents Not So Grotesk’, Typo Magazine (czech)
2005‘Review of Typotastic’, Open Manifesto 3, publisher Kevin Finn
2005‘Australian Type’, Australian Creative 10th Anniversary Issue
2004Typographic Issue, publisher Kevin Finn
1999After the Shouting: The Post-Grapus Generation publisher Baseline 29
1999After the Shouting: The Post-Grapus Generation publisher Monument 29
2000‘Ampersand Launch – Innovation 3, Helvetica 0’, publisher Desktop 149
1999‘This is an industry, damn it!’, publisher Desktop 139
1998‘A survival Guide to 1998’, publisher Desktop 121
1997‘Free Fonts for all’, publisher Desktop 111
1997‘The Designers Issue’, publisher Desktop 110
1997Dialogue Magazine
1996‘Australia Type Culture’, publisher Desktop 100
1996‘Taxonomy of Type’, publisher Desktop 108
1996‘Pause Here Then Go’, Name Magazine
1995‘Qwerty’, Grrr! publisher Typerware

A selection of media coverage

2022‘The Greatest: Fonts’, David Astle ABC Radio Melbourne
2022‘ShopTalk: Typography’, Casey Bennetto ABC Radio Melbourne
2022‘Bionic Reading’ and Typography, ABC Radio Canberra
2021‘How Fonts can affect Memory’, cbs Radio Los Angeles KNX (usa)
2021‘How fonts affect learning and memory’, Discover Magazine (usa)
2020Guest Instagram Interviewee (March 2020) for the Australian Book Design Association (ABDA).
2020‘Talking Fonts’ (ABC Radio), 18 January. Discussion with Jacinta Parsons.
2019‘Talking Fonts’ (abcRadio), 29 December. Discussion with Samuel Johnson.
2019‘Sans Forgetica’, AIGA (USA) ‘Eye On Design’ Article
2019‘The Sans Forgetica Typeface Project’, BBC Worldwide, Click Program
2019‘Sans Forgetica Project’, Novum Magazine (Germany)
2019‘The Forget-Me-Not Font – Sans Forgetica’, Wired Magazine (USA)
2018‘RMIT University create ultimate study hack for year 12 students with Sans Forgetica’, Campaign Brief
2018‘Sans Forgetica’ Interview, NPR (National Public Broadcasting USA)
2018‘Sans Forgetica Interview’ Monocle (UK) Midori House Radio Podcast
2018‘The new font that promises to boost your memory’, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper
2018‘Sans Forgetica Interview’, ABC Radio National, Drivetime with Patricia Karvelas
2018‘Researchers develop typeface they say can boost memory’, Guardian UK Newspaper
2018‘Sans Forgetica – A font designed to boost your memory’, Washington Post (USA)
2016‘Typography and Music’, Radio ABC Radio National Blueprint for Living Program
2016‘Fonts and their meanings’, ABC Radio Brisbane
2016‘Talking Fonts’, ABC Radio Sydney
2016‘For the Love of Fonts’, Radio ABC Radio National Blueprint for Living Program
2015 ‘Cluster Tram’ Interview, Radio ABC Radio (Victoria) Breakfast Show
2015‘The Ghostsign Hunters’, Radio AABC Radio National Blueprint for Living Program
2015‘Discussion of Fonts’, 3RRR Radio Future Proof Program
2015‘Discussion of Fonts’, 3RRR Radio Super Fluidity Program
2014‘Discussion of Fonts’, 3RRR Radio The Architects Program
2014‘Talking Type’, ABC Radio (Victoria) with Raphael Epstein
2013‘Talking Type’, ABC Radio National By Design Program
2013‘Type Interview’, ABC Radio Breakfast with Red Symons
2013‘Cluster Interview’, ABC Television, 7.30 Report
2013‘Discussion of Fonts’, 3RRR Radio The Breakfasters Program
2013‘Signage’, The Australian Newspaper
2012‘Review of Characters’, Codex Magazine
2012‘Review of Characters’, Etapés Magazine
2012‘Review of Characters’, Typo Magazine
2012‘Review of Characters’, New York Times & International Herald Tribune with Alice Rawsthorn
2012‘Review of Characters’, Design Observer with Rick Poynor
2012‘Review of Characters’, Blue Pencil with Paul Shaw (US)
2011‘The Conversation Hour’ Interview, Radio ABC Radio (Victoria) with John Faine
2011‘Talking Type’, ABC Radio National By Design Program
2011‘All Lit Up’, The Age Melbourne Magazine
2011‘More Than Face Value’, The Age Newspaper
2011Interview, Australian Arts Journal Issue 3
2011‘What Lies Beneath’, The Age Newspaper
2010‘Interview’, Art Nation, ABC Television with Finella Kernebone
2010‘Interview’, Design Files website
2010‘Interview’ Desktop Magazine 262
2009‘The Walls can speak on this block’, Herald Sun Newspaper
2009AGIdeas 19, Conference Book
2009’17 Graphic Stories’, The Age Newspaper, Ray Edgar.
2009‘A Font of Knowledge’, The Age Newspaper, Jane Sullivan.
2009‘Interview’ Slanted Magazine (Germany)
2009‘Interview’, Diagraphics (Spain)
2009‘Interview’, Creative Review Magazine (UK)
2008‘The Right Type’, Design Quarterly 31
2008‘Interview’, Typo Magazine (czech)
2008‘Interview’ Nelson Visual Communication and Design, Coursebook
2008‘Everything is Illuminated’, The Australian Newspaper
2008‘Sky’s the Limit for typecast animals’, The Age Newspaper
2008‘Writings on Mid-East Wall’, The Age Newspaper
2008‘Honouring the animals that took a giant leap’, The Age Newspaper
2008‘Glass Half-Full’ EG Profile, The Age Newspaper
2007‘Interview’, smalllust.com
2007‘More than face-value’, The Age Newspaper
2007‘Interview’, T-Magazine
2007‘Interview’, Typo Magazine (czech)
2006Coverage in Typosphere Book (Spain)
2006‘Interview’, KLM Inflight Magazine
2006‘Interview’, Idea Magazine
2005‘Interview’ Typotastic Magazine
2005‘Profile’, Studio, Design at Work, McGraw Hill Publishing
2005Designing Porntopia (Book) by Rick Poynor
2004‘Interview’, Proteguz-vous (Canada)
2004‘Interview’, Design Graphics
2004‘Interview’, How Magazine (US)
2004‘Interview’, Grafik Magazine (uk)
2004Reviews Section, Eye Magazine Issue 52
2004‘Interview’, Typography Issue, Desktop Magazine 129
2004‘A Bold Type of Guy’, The Age Newspaper
2003Pol Oxygen Magazine
2003Profile, 2D+3D Magazine (Poland)
2003‘Not My Type’, The Age Newspaper
2003Profile, Reputations Section, Eye Magazine Issue 46
2002No Brief – Self-initiated projects in Graphic Design (Book) (UK)
2002Big Ideas (Book) (UK)
2001Comma (Lebanon)
2001Interview, Australian Style Magazine (Nov)
2001Design Education Supplement, The Age Newspaper
2001Type Rules (Book) (USA)
2001Assembly Project Profile, The Face Magazine (UK)
2001‘Self-Aggratising’, Eye Magazine Issue 38 (UK)
2001‘Assembly’, Adbusters Issue 37 (Canada)
2001Adbusters, Issue 34 (Canada)
2000Emigré Magazine Issue 54 (USA)
2000Profile Interview, Monument Magazine Issue 29
2000Interview, Design Special Issue of Black and White Magazine
2000Profile, E-Mag Supplement, The Age Newspaper
2000‘Leading Designers’ Profile, Weekend Australian Newspaper
2000‘Bound For Glory – Leading Type in the World’ (Book) (uk)
1999Art & Australia Magazine
1999‘Directions In Design’, Monument Magazine Issue 26
1999‘Typographics 3 _ Global Visions’ (Book) (uk)
1998Baseline Magazine (uk)
1998‘Best of Australian Design’ Monument Magazine, Issue 25
1997Profile Interview, Monument Magazine Issue 22
1997Emigré Magazine, Issue 41 (USA)
1997New York Type Directors Club Annual, Nº19 (USA)
1997New York Type Directors Club Annual, Nº18 (USA)
1996Black and White Magazine
1996‘Design Down Under’, (Book) Nº4
1995‘Typographics 2’, (Book), (UK)
1995‘Typographics 1’, (Book), (UK)
1995New York Type Directors Club Annual, Nº16 (USA)
1995‘Low Budget Design’, (Book) (usa)
1995Grr! Magazine (Spain)
1994Eye Magazine Type Special, Issue 15 (uk)
1994‘A Qwerty kind of guy’, The Age Newspaper
1994‘Design Down Under’, (Book) Nº3
1994Baseline Magazine Issue 17 (uk)

exhibitions

2016Multistory Public Art Test Site, Emporium Centre, Melbourne
2013Cluster City Gallery, Melbourne. Curated by Stephen Banham
201310 years of Creative Fellows, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
2013Public Offer RMIT Design Hub, Melbourne
2010Paper City City Gallery,Melbourne. Co-curated by Prof Andrew May & Christine Eid
2010Stereotyped Object Gallery, Sydney. A collaboration with composer David Chesworth
2008Mirror Of Your World; Books and Ideas, Permanent Collection, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
2008Orbit Oblique Craft Victoria, Melbourne
2006Accidents Not So Grotesk Federation Square, Melbourne
2006Signs of the Times, City Museum, Melbourne
2005Mirror Of Your World; Books and Ideas, Permanent Collection, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
2005Typo-Beirut, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
2003Defining Beauty, Bus Gallery, Melbourne
2002The Clothes Off their Backs, Refugee Fund-raiser, Dante Gallery, Melbourne
200019th Biennale of Graphic Design, Brno, Slovakia
1999Zac 99: Alternatives in Graphic Design Practice, Museum of Modern Art, Paris
1999IDEP Spring Design Show, Barcelona, Spain
1998Rentfont Citylights, Melbourne
1997New York Type Directors Club Show, Global Touring Exhibition
1997On Type, RMIT University Melbourne
1996New York Type Directors Club Show, Global Touring Exhibition
199617th Biennale of Graphic Design, Brno, Slovakia
1995Qwerty 6 Show, Melbourne
1995New York Type Directors Club Show, Global Touring Exhibition
1995Contentment, Billboard Show, Adelaide
1995Qwerty 5 Show, Melbourne
1993Kre-8 Type, Acland Gallery, Melbourne
1993Pause Here Then Go, Word Window Program, Melbourne
1993$19.95, Metropolitan Café, Melbourne
19933rd International Visual Poetry Show, The Lounge, Melbourne
1991Qwerty The Lounge, Melbourne

films

2021What We Do Next Really Matters by Mark Roeder (60 sec book trailer)
201210×10: RMIT Design Futures Lab, Melbourne
2012InFrame TV 11 part interviews
2012On the Shoulders of Giants; A Tribute to 13 Graphic Designers dvd and Book, Sydney
2010Behind the Scenes of the Characters Book web film
2010Art Nation, ABC Television
2010The story of the RMIT logo Produced by RMIT University Marketing. Updated in 2018
2003Fancy – Typographic Embellishment Launch Film. Design by Sarah Dreschsler
2002Art Show, Channel 31 Television.
2001Ampersand 5 (Grand) VHS Video. Design by Andrew Trewern
2000Ampersand 4 (Assembly) VHS Video. Design by Andrew Trewern
1999Ampersand 3 (Convoy) VHS Video. Design by Andrew Trewern

public forums

2022Haileybury Incubator Project, Melbourne
2021Book Design, Geelong Design Week, Geelong
2016Neon Film Premiere, Nova Cinemas, Melbourne. In conversation with film director Lawrence Johnston.
2016A Brief Exchange, Workshop, Fitzroy.
2015Fun with Logos. An activity educating children on logos. M Pavilion, Melbourne
2015Utypia, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne.
2012City as Fiction, Chapter House, Melbourne. Produced by the City of Melbourne.
2012Book Design, Sydney Writers Festival Walsh Wharf Theatre, Sydney
2011 ‘Signs of Life’  Melbourne Writers Festival, NGV, Federation Square, Melbourne
2009AG Ideas Conference, Melbourne
2010Character 6 Typography Forum, ACMI Cinemas, Federation Square, Melbourne
2007Character 4 Typography Forum, BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne
2006Character 3 Typography Forum, BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne
2006Character 2 Typography Forum, BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne
2005Character 1 Typography Forum, BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne

awards

2020Australian Book Design Association (abda) Best Book Cover of the Year Award
2020Winner, Museums Australasia Multimedia and Publication Design Award
2019Victoria Premiers Design Award, Best in Class (Communication Design)
2019Winner, Museums Australasia Multimedia and Publication Design Award
2019rmit University Research Impact Award
2019Good Design Awards, Best in Class, Communication Design
2019Good Design Awards, Patrons Australian Design Award
2001Heritage Planning Award, City of Melbourne
1998Beckett Award (usa)
1998National Print Award (aus)
1998Australian Publishers Association (apa) Best Book Cover of the Year Award
1997New York Type Directors Club Certificate of Excellence (usa)
1996New York Type Directors Club Certificate of Excellence (usa)
1995New York Type Directors Club Certificate of Excellence (usa)

awards judging

2022Assessor, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2021Assessor and Moderator, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2020International Assessor, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2020Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2019International Assessor, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2019Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2018Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2017Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2016Judge, Australian Book Design Association (abda) Book Awards
2015Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2014Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2013Judge, Canberra Centenary Typeface Competition
2013Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2012Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2011Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2010Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2010Judge, Australian Graphic Design Association (agda) Awards, Student Brief (Brisbane)
2010Judge, Desktop Create Awards
2009Assessor, Australian Chapter, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2008Judge, Brisbane Art Directors Awards
2000Judge, Australian Graphic Design Association (agda) Awards
1997Judge, award School Awards

public art commissions

2020One Day in Our Park Metro Tunnel Legacy Artwork Commission
2020Here There Metro Tunnel Artwork Commission
2019It was around about here Test Sites Art Commission, City of Melbourne
2016Multistory Test Sites Art Commission, City of Melbourne
2015Cluster Tram Melbourne Art Tram Commission, Melbourne Festival
2010Circular Vic Urban Art Commission

research fellowships

2018Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools (acuads) Academic Fellowship
2011State Library of Victoria Creative Fellowship

clothing

2001Helvetica Thin – Just Say No, T-Shirt
2000Death to Helvetica, T-Shirt

other

2020Typography Expert Witness, Supreme Court of South Australia
2020Board Member & Lead of Publications, International Society of Typographic Designers (istd)
2010Typographic Ambassador, Australian Graphic Design Association
2009Typography Expert Witness, Federal Court of Australia