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Can a typeface or a type treatment evoke a sense of place? We’ve seen Playbill used on anything to do with acting and the theater, but what about an entire region? Can type treatments help define and refine a sense of place? After returning from my two week honeymoon in Hawaii, I would have to answer that question with a resounding “YES.”

Hawaii is of course a place where people go on vacation. Whether that means to relax, learn about an interesting culture or play in the surf and sun, I think that the type treatments used in the region definitely help to define the place. I took a few pictures of signage and type treatments that I thought were interesting for one reason or another. Some of the signs are obviously custom lettering, while others use stock fonts and were obviously output on a computer. Mostly, I sensed that a connection to the ocean was important in much of the “Hawaiian feel.”

I liked the playful rolling letters of the Lokelani’s sign. The mixed use of caps and lowercase lettering also gives the non-Hawaiian reader clues on how to better pronounce the name.

Lokelani - Hawaiian Typeography

The Kahana Villa uses fairly rouded typeface that has terminals that make me think of waves. Even without the inclusion of the whale silhouette, I’d bet that you’d still think that this is an oceanfront location.

Kahana Villa - Hawaiian Typography

The Hono Koa uses a typeface that is fairly common. You can see it on signs, building names and more. I especially like the surfboard-shaped crossbars.

Hono Koa - Hawaiian Typography

The Fah Inn uses a similarly rounded face that gives you the feeling that this location is laid-back and mellow. Perhaps the Public Library in Waimea is hearkening back to the days when the hippies were prevalent on the island. I saw many balloon-like and trippy fonts being used on public buildings and schools.

The Fah Inn - Hawaiian Typography Waimea Public Library - Hawaiian Typography

I liked this sign for its creativity and mixed use of faces in a clear attempt to boost the credibility of said “Junque” store. While it doesn’t necessarily evoke a connection to the ocean, I definitely would have gone in if the store was open.

Collectibles - Hawaiian Type

The Green Garden Restaurant has taken some liberties with lettering, in a fairly obvious attempt to refer to the foliage surrounding their restaurant. I wonder how often they need to trim back the forces of nature.

Green Garden Restaurant

A Hawaiian typography post would not be complete without the ubiquitous Tiki Bar styled type in this sign. It’s got everything a lounge lizard from the 50s would love.
Tiki Tiki Tiki - Hawaiian Typography

Most of the previous examples are non-corporate and independent in nature. There are, of course, your typical Marriot, Westin and other large corporate locations that all use fairly typical and professional fonts and typography on their signage. Yet, I did notice quite a few mid-level, wannabe corporate stores utilizing an overused and I would argue inappropriate face for their displays. Yes, Papyrus rears it’s head once again.

Papyrus - Hawaiian Typography

Well that’s about it. I’m off to have a shave ice on my lanai. Aloha!


3 comments on “Hawaii Typography – evoking a sense of place

  1. This is one of my dream places to visit, all I know is that I have to save save. Those sign boards are stunning have to say Lokelani’s sign is my favorite out of them I think it has to do with they way they have use both non caps and caps something that many of us would never do and its be taught to us its wrong but I think that it works just perfectly.

    I am really enjoying this blog and site.

  2. These sign boards are just stunning its amazing how a sign board can create attention to ones business and these are all bold and colorful, they really make a statement thats for sure, and who wouldn’t want to go see them on a beautiful island like that of Hawaii??

  3. Penny and Mandy both make great comments, wow Hawaii, what a place to go visit, pure paradise, what more could anyone want, white beaches, clear blue sea’s. hmmmm just stunning, I really like all the sign age that has been used don’t really have a favorite one here, it’s to hard to chose.

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