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The Things We’ll Look at Over and Over

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I could watch the opening titles of To Kill a Mockingbird forever. It’s a slow, quiet montage filled with delights: the crayon rubbing that reveals the film title, the box filled with seemingly random trinkets that we know instinctively have meaning.

But mostly, I love the moment when the name “Gregory Peck” appears on the screen in thick, sturdy, sans serif type. All caps.

The letters are strong, but soft too, somehow. I see this name, floating in the centre of the screen and feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. My stomach is full and I am complete.

It’s the “peculiarity of human brain function” – why form is gratifying, or at least that’s what Milton Glaser says. In an interview with 99% Invisible, Glaser spoke about one of his most famous designs: the “I Love NY” logo.

He’s confounded by the success and longevity of the logo, but is able to shed some light on why it’s become so iconic:

“The rigidity of that letter form and the attempt of the grid to contain the erotic nature of the heart. There’s something that creates an act of closure in people’s minds when they see it that they want repeated, that doesn’t bore them. They can look at it a thousand — a hundred-thousand times and still not say ‘I’ve had enough!’”

But even as he provides a sound explanation for why the design works, he also embraces the baffling nature of brains and shapes.

“It’s a trivial mystery — but maybe not, maybe it’s a profound mystery: why people are willing to look at certain things over and over and over and over…..”