I came across the Twitter feed of a new, UK-based design agency recently, and I couldn’t let them go by without a mention: Interabang founders Adam Giles and Ian McLean have chosen a name close to my heart. I was able to chat with Adam over email about their reasoning, and he was good enough to let me post his words here:
As a graphic designer, the interrobang/interabang has always been on my radar as an unusual moment in the history of punctuation (and typography). When my partner Ian and I set up this company a little over a year ago we spent a long time thinking about a name that would mark us out as different whilst also hinting at the nature of what we do.
Superficially we love the sound of the word interabang, and we also suspected (correctly) it would be a great ice breaker when meeting people — we either get into a conversation about what an interabang is, or (on occasion) people know what one is, and enjoy telling us about how they came across one. This is partly why we don’t feature an actual interabang as part of our identity, as we wanted there to be a level of intrigue and ‘discovery’.
Conceptually we liked the idea of an interabang being two elements coming together to create something new (in the same way that my partner and I came together to start the company). It also suggests questions and answers, reminding us of the problem solving process we engage in as designers.
Also, Adam explained their decision to use the less common ‘interabang’, rather than the more usual ‘interrobang’, and summed up neatly the benefits of choosing such an unusual (to non-Shady Characters readers, at least!) word for their name:
Lastly, we chose the alternative spelling as we were concerned that people coming to the word cold, might find it harsh or aggressive (its only one letter away from having ‘terror’ in it!).
As a company name interabang has worked really well for us — if you read the article from design week linked below it’s the first thing mention[ed] about us. We’ve also found that people really engage with it — clients make up all sorts of names for us, and we’ve had a stream of home made/found interabang symbols sent to us. The most recent was iced onto a cake [ed: see above]!
The Design Week profile mentioned above can be found here, and you can read more about the agency at their website. Shady Characters has, of course, already covered the history of the interrobang/interabang at length, and who knows — perhaps some of Interabang’s clients will turn here to learn more about the agency’s namesake.
Also on Shady Characters’ radar is this post at xperimetre (the blog of Philadelphia’s Dark Potion Printing) which proposes a new mark of punctuation called the “affirmation point”, or “checkpoint”. Echoing Hervé Bazin’s pictographic “love point” and “acclamation point”, the checkpoint is oddly compelling. I’m not sure it’s strictly necessary as such, but to my eyes at least the checkpoint lends itself to sensible typographic rendering in a manner quite unlike that other newly created mark of punctuation, the much-maligned SarcMark.
That’s all for this year. I’d like to say thank you to all Shady Characters readers — the site would have been a quiet place without your comments, and the book wouldn’t have been possible at all. Have a great holiday, and see you all again in the new year!