Streets are full of unnoticed letters most often hand-made or designed long ago. The Lettering da is a project which put together a collection of letters, numbers and street inscriptions, whose design and typography is then analyzed and redesigned. It started in 2012 by Silvia Virgillo and was born from her fascination with urban typographic elements visible in the public space. Its aim is to create a photographic archive of letters focusing on design that mirrors the historical period in which they originated.
The project begun in Turin, birthplace of Silvia, and then spread to other Italian cities like Milan, Genoa, Mater, Venice, Rome, Faenza, Trieste, and Lecce. Each of these cities has its own curator, with a graphic education background and a passion for letter design. The curator’s task is to collect the material in the city, and then prepare it for the archives. It is later redesigned and made available in a web archive; the project is transparent and accessible to everyone.
Every city has its Lettering da Facebook page that a particular curator regulates. The process of preparing material for the archive involves the digital transcription of letters, which are then compared with existing fonts. Then, their exact location as well as their origin and purpose are determined, documented and given a number.
This project is just the starting point for what’s planned to be achieved in the future: designing completely new typographic letters inspired by city typography, hand-made or taken from a non-digitized alphabet.
Lettering da is constantly growing because of the rich city typography of Italy, and many cities will join the project in the future. The desire of the curator is to bring the citizens closer to the treasures they pass on a daily basis, so that the typography of the cities will receive their deserved attention and respect. In addition to archiving and designing, this team also organizes various events, exhibitions, workshops, bicycle tours, which support this basic idea of promoting city inscriptions.