News

Dec 12, 2019

Coming Soon to the Online Archive: Tables

For every Letterform Archive tour we set a table — a visual feast of objects that respond to the interests of each guest. Soon, you can get a taste of this experience from anywhere.

Photo of Letterform Archive reading room.
This table is set for “1960s–70s Independent Publishing”, a section of last year’s California College of the Arts MFA course on the history of typography.

One of the unique aspects of an Archive visit is our reading room table, typically filled with a collection of artifacts assembled specifically for each research visitor, class, or team. (See some examples.) It’s so fulfilling to gather objects that spark our guests’ imaginations and launch their journey through the Archive. In keeping with our mantra of radical accessibility, we want everyone to benefit from this kind of customized view of the collection no matter where you are.

That’s why we’re developing an Online Archive feature — called Tables — that will help us translate that personalized experience to the web. Members will even be able to create and share their own Tables, empowering them to create custom sources of design learning and inspiration.

Tables can have any criteria as a source of design inspiration, such as interesting uses of geometric shapes.
A Table can have any criteria you choose as a source of design inspiration, such as interesting uses of color, letterform, or shape.
What to Look for in the Upcoming Table Feature
  • Browse staff-curated Tables
  • Create and share your own Table
  • Select image(s) from any item in the Online Archive
  • See objects at relative scale, simulating real-life comparison
  • Arrange objects on your Table
  • Add personal notes for each item
  • See aggregated data of all items
  • Toggle between the default view and a list view with thumbnails, metadata, and notes
  • Print Tables in either view, or save as PDF

This feature offers interesting possibilties to professional designers (build an inspirational moodboard to share with your team or clients), students and educators (create a slideshow or printable handout of historical landmarks for class), and researchers (keep a record of relevant material for future reference, complete with your own notes).

Instructors can use a Table to collect examples relevant to course material. Metadata such as creators, countries, and formats are aggregated for quickly extending the exploration.
Instructors can use a Table to collect examples relevant to course material. Metadata such as creators, countries, and formats are aggregated for quickly extending the exploration.
Add personal notes for each image on the Table. An optional list view of the Table displays notes along with thumbnails, suitable for printing or export to PDF.
An optional list view of the Table displays notes along with thumbnails, suitable for printing or export to PDF.

We’ve been working hard to bring new content and tools to the Online Archive. Members should expect to see the first iteration of the Table feature and access to freshly updated collections early next year, and we’re excited to launch the site publicly in 2020. So now is a good time to join or renew, and make sure you’re subscribed to our mailing list to be notified about updates.

We can’t wait to see the Tables you set.

Get access to the Online Archive beta