Prior to designing Diaspora, Apolline de Luca and Alessandro Prepi Sot had little experience in type design. They knew only the rudimentary when it came to the complicated art form, and were mainly self taught, but that didn’t stop them creating Diaspora during their master’s degree in communication design at The Glasgow School of Art. It was there, during this time in Scotland, that Apolline and Alessandro delved into the history of Italian immigration between 1880 and 1920. This research would go into inform the display font that is Diaspora, an expression of two cultures crafted through the design of letterforms.
Before meeting at The Glasgow School of Art, Alessandro studied in San Marino Republic, completing a series of design internships including one at a photography collective with a focus on independent publishing. As for Apolline, the French graphic designer studied in Bordeaux before venturing to London where she worked on a number of internships included a stint at art book publishers, Koenig Books. When it came to the design of Diaspora however, the two designers unearthed a fascination in this historic Scots-Italian heritage.
The dual identity soon became a “recognisable, fully fledged persona encompassing characteristics of both cultures,” explains Apolline. And, with this in mind, the display font aims to capture the hybrid identity. With seven alternates for the letters A, E, M, N, T, U, V and W, the display font nods to the iconic aspects of both Scotland’s and Italy’s typographic histories. Alessandro explains: “While having their own characteristics, Diaspora’s letters are designed on a single basis structure, helping to create a harmonious set.”
Each user can express their own version of the font by making use of the alternative letters as and when they wish. It’s a nod to the integration that came with the Italian immigration to Scotland, not to mention the resulting peace that came to exist in the dual communities, reflected across Diaspora’s design. Once they started researching the history, Apolline goes on, “What struck us was how beautiful and harmonious this immigration was, unlike what’s happening today in the world where hatred towards different foreigners is too visible. Italian immigration to Scotland is a beautiful example of a great cultural integration as the two communities coexisted, adopting each others’ traditions.”