During the height of the epidemic, designer Anna Sing grew interested in houseplants, just as her final year thesis at the University of Texas in Austin was approaching. “I remember looking at some plant cuttings above my kitchen sink, thinking about how I didn’t know anything about the history of houseplants,” she recalls. “Did a houseplant typeface already exist? Was there some connection houseplants could have to typography or the digital world we lived in now?”
“Some people didn’t believe that I could make a functional typeface in the 15ish weeks we had, so I made four instead of one,” Sing adds. She’d never designed a typeface before, and her curriculum didn’t include any type design classes. Undaunted, she began reading Karen Cheng’s Designing Type and contacted a friend who taught her how to utilize glyphs over Zoom. She also sent an email to Portland-based graphic designer Leah Maldonado on a whim because Maldonado was the coolest designer she could think of. “Leah graciously became my mentor,” Sing says, giving her feedback on her first typeface, Prune.
Prune is a trimmed-back sans-serif that Anna describes as “the vessel in which I taught myself typeface design.” Representing the most basic requirements of a typeface, it is inspired by the importance of trimming houseplants.
Since houseplants first became popular in the 1800s, Sing drew influence from a variety of Victorian types to create her second typeface, Aureum, a serif typeface that references the common houseplant pathos and its vine-like forms.
Her spiky Saguaro typeface is reminiscent of cacti’s water-absorbing spines, while Orkyd is an experimental display typeface inspired by the mystique of the blooming orchid plant. Anna spent three days tracing the symmetrical outlines of blossoms from a 600- page encyclopedia of orchids and this particular typeface has received a lot of attention, including a mention in Monotype’s 2022 Type Trends study and use in a Paloma Wool campaign.
Anna Sing is now working to turn Greenhouse Type into a “foundry that explores houseplants’ history and relevance in a digital world through Latin typeface design.” While her immediate goal is to add some “new plant-faces to the font bouquet,” she’s also “daydreaming about one day becoming a florist in the mountains somewhere.”
Source: As orginally reported by It’s Nice That