This is one of the questions that graphic designer Sarah Hyndman, author of the book The type taster: How fonts influence you, had in mind when she set up her site Type Tasting in 2013. Based on the concept of wine tasting she created this place in order to change the conversation about typography from talking about what font “does” to how it “tastes”. To her, typeface is a multi-sensory experience that impacts the way stuff tastes, smells and even sounds to us. In order to prove her point she invites you to take a part in a series of fun and provoking challenges such as “What would font taste like?” or “Can you judge a task by its type?” all the way to the Type Dating Game that helps you discover which fonts would you date, ditch or be “just good friends” with.
According to the author when women had to choose between dating nine fonts such as Futura Light, Ariel, Franklin Gothic and others almost 20 percent choose Franklin Gothic that is perceived as masculine, strong and reliable. And although no one will actually date a typeface what’s interesting about this research is that it proves that we think about fonts beyond their basic shape – we give them certain traits, associate them with certain believes and in return they reveal a great deal about us.
The idea that we assign certain personalities to different typefaces is not a new one, and we already wrote about it, but Sarah Hyndman in collaboration with Charles Spence, professor at the Department of Experimental Psychology of the Oxford University is trying to quantify her believes and understand why, for example, people associate angularity with saltiness while red, rounded shapes are “sweet” or why lighter weight, sans serif fonts “look” expensive while bold and rounded ones “look” cheap. Even if you look at brands in your local store you will notice angular, harsher typefaces on labels for a sparkling water and rounded and mellow fonts on labels for still water. Coincidence? Think again.
"I am interested in using these experiments as a fun way to start conversations and dispel the preconception that typography is a 'dry' subject for academics and experts" Hyndman says. And although there are many skeptic that believe how context will prevent this from even being a scientific research Hyndman doesn’t mind and emphasizes how it’s just important that we know typography has some impact on the way we understand the world around us: “Typefaces do what nonverbal communication does when we are not actually in the room to talk”.
The Type Taster and participate in one of 11 surveys. You will help authors get one step closer to their results, have a lot of fun and maybe even learn a thing or two about yourself. Enjoy!