Herbert Bayer’s Universal Alphabet

Bayer is often credited with modernizing typography in the Bauhaus with his creation of the Universal alphabet. This piece is an example of Bayer’s experimentation in creating the Universal lettering. He wanted to create a type that did not use any upper-case. He observed that we don’t use upper-case when speaking with one another so he believed it shouldn’t be necessary for written communication either. Growing up in Germany Bayer encountered the german manner of capitalizing all nouns in written type which further emphasizes how irrelevant he saw capitalization as. The Universal typography was never put into production at the Bauhaus despite Herbert’s efforts but he did get to teach students about it through his workshop.

The piece is called ‘Research in Development of Universal Type by Herbert Bayer’. It was made in 1927 during his time as the typography workshop Master at the Bauhaus, a position he was given after studying typography with Moholy-Nagy. The large red d in the piece was intended to have precise optical effects paired with its bold orange color to draw in the viewer. The graphic’s design encapsulates the modern, effective, and straightforwardness of the Bauhaus as well as emphasizes its most cited trait of being minimalist. This is further apparent in the typography itself. The font is a sans serif and letters like p q b and d are just rotated versions of each other. The x is a split o with the two halves swapped showing how the parts of the letters are shared across the whole typeface.