lower case typography and steve jobs

what do steve jobs and lower case typography have in common? well, let me try to explain. when you thought all lower case is just some gimmick of design individuals with a hint for anarchy, think again. as it turns out, already around 1925 the first to use this type of alphabet was the bauhaus movement. their motives to abandon capital letters where not just aesthetic but actual principles came into play here.

to the bauhaus addepts the priority lies in functionality, promoting industry and mass production and thus arouse the idea to promote a non-hierarchical language, which would appeal to everyone,  in which capital letters are not to be used since “we don’t use them as we speak”. this type of alphabet, they argued, would be easier to learn and to read. it took less space and was more economical – typesetting was easier and composing machinary (and typewriters) could be simplified. this idea of time saving was also emphasized at the bottom of their letterhead by the text: “wir schreiben alles klein, denn wir sparen damit zeit” (we write everything small, thus saving time). but considering the fact that in the german language capitals are also used for the initial letter of every noun this idea does not sound that crooked at all.

this philosophy also appealed to the design company of the first apple computers: frog design. the company name in lower case – refering to its roots: (f)ederal (r)epublic (o)f (g)ermany – “offered a nod to the bauhaus notion of a non-hierarchical society and reinforced the company’s ethos of democratic partnership”. and there we are, back to steve jobs, who supposedly always signed his name in lower case.

 

bauhaus