What is life? What is its purpose?  Where did it come from? What makes each of us who we are, and what makes us humans different from other lifeforms? 

I asked these questions for my undergrad thesis and traced the answer from evolution through heredity to a molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid. We know it better as DNA.

DNA in living cells has been present in every living cell that has ever existed on Earth; combined with Darwin’s theory of evolution, we have a model of how life is and its origins almost 4 billion years ago. It is the reason we are born with an amalgamation of our parent’s traits; it is the driving force behind the reproduction of all species that have ever existed; it is the very reason that life exists.

The biological purpose of life is to perpetuate DNA.

The immediate association with DNA is the iconic spiral ladder, the double helix structure. However, the rungs on that ladder are composed of just 4 nucleotides—or bases—Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine and Guanine. They combine in sequences, somewhat like Morse code.

DNA stores biological data in the form of genes. The genes contain specific instructions needed to create proteins; togehter, an instruction manual for every single feature of our body.

This is a tiny snippet of a Homo Sapien's chromosome 16. It's part of a 3 MB file that on a Word document goes to 476 pages. There are about 50 files for each chromosome, ranging from a few kB to 900 MB. There are 23 chromosomes. You can imagine just how long our genetic code is. I had goosebumps for 15 minutes after finding this file.

If Nature can build all of this beauty and variety around us by communicating through just 4 letters — can we?

This was the contrast explored in this project. How something that is essentially a series of letters can manifest itself into something so complex, indefinable and multifaceted as life; how our origin and evolution from a cell to human is all a result of encrypted code within DNA.

How everything we are is a result of different combinations of 4 letters.

TypoGrAphiC is a set of typefaces that explore and communicate various ideas of the genetic code and its manifestation into human life. It also does this using just 4 letters, the 4 bases in our DNA: A, C, G and T.

TypoGrAphiC One explores ideas of  evolution  and mutation through type. 

This monospaced, purely geometric font begins in its simplest form, the way DNA existed as the simplest possible organic molecules 3 billion years ago. It attempts to represent this process of evolution and thereafter, the tweaking and mutating that occurred through errors in the genetic code. 

Simple geometric shapes evolve into complex, multifaceted ones, creating a sense of hierarchy through time. 

TypoGrAphiC Two represents the genetic code and its direct physical  manifestation into a human being.

Commonly associated primarily with heredity and dominant-recessive traits, we don't realise DNA plays a part in the creation of every single part of our bodies. From your height and your weight, from the colour of your skin to the size of your feet. For example, in a section of Chromosome 16, it is just these 9 letters that determine the colour of your eyes.

All of the variety that exists in the world boils down to the sequence of just these 4 letters.

There is a tendency to transcend the restraints of readability upon breaking out from the grid, only to form abstract representations of living organisms.

BFA Thesis project    ·    Genetic Code + Typography    ·    Mentored by Sonali Mandke    ·     2017    ·    Adobe Design Achievement Awards Winner      ·    AIGA Eye on Design    ·