No_Code: Shelter
Visual language for an exhibition at Salone del Mobile, Milano

A visual story of contemporary life: how did you live and how will you live in the future? Tod’s No_Code exhibition examines the changes happening in contemporary society resulting from the rapid progression we are seeing in existing codes. The concept of ‘Hybridization’ in contemporary culture is the central theme of the exhibition. It is based on the synergy between technology and traditional craftsmanship.

Tod’s worked together with international architectural practice Studio Andrea Caputo, on ’No_Code Shelter: Stories of Contemporary Life’ for the Salone del Mobile 2019 at Le Cavallerizze in Milan’s Leonardo Da Vinci National Science and Technology Museum. The exhibition went back to the roots of architectural design, in the form of shelters.

The exhibition presented five shelters, a ‘Yurt’, a ‘Persian Camp’, a ‘Musgum’, a ‘Pitched Hut’ and a ‘Casamance’, from several geographical regions. Eight prominent personalities from the creative sectors were invited to discuss their own lifestyle and their reactions to contemporary life. Visitors can access each shelter and experience one of the eight video interviews.

Taking the basics of human needs as a starting point, each shelter was defined as a symbol of human evolution and response to an environmental and societal challenge. ‘No_Code Shelter’ was conceived as the synthesis of the obsessive long research that Lloyd Kahn, Stewart Brand, D.C. Beard and other experts have started last century. The ‘Whole Earth Catalog’ and the ‘Shelter publishing’ projects were re-elaborated to narrate the methodologies and the elements for housing and human life. RNDR was asked to design the visual language of ‘No_Code Shelter’.

Design of the exhibition
The typography and graphic design of the exhibition play with the idea of  ‘Hybridization’ and reflects on the reinterpretations of the shelters. All the graphics elements use the line as a distinctive sign for the different shelters built in the space.

Each frame showcases a layer of information with photographs, sketches, books, letters and didactic text. A thematic title defines the type of process applied in the building up of the shelters. The whole content was split into thirteen frames:

Assembling, Weaving, Wrapping, Moulding, Whole Earth Catalog, Layering, Excavating, Boy Scout Elements, Boy Scout Typologies, Recycling and Settlements.

The layout of the content is organic and uses clusters to integrate all information in a fluid system, similar to a ‘travel collage’.

The typography used for the texts is a custom monoline typeface. The typeface alternates a set of letters that hints at prototypical floorplans of shelters. We designed a special double-lines typeface for the titles. Each character is deconstructed and assembled with open fragments.

The visual language comes together with the use of re-interpreted photographies. We selected iconic photographies from the research material and processed them through a custom tool that was made in OPENRNDR, using a set of different lines to generate a new image.