Accept & Proceed and Tom Sharp’s poetic identity for AWO highlights the importance of our data rights
Composed of leading lawyers and technologists, including many figures who worked on the infamous Cambridge Analytica case, AWO is a data rights and consultancy agency with the intention of continuing defence and extension of human rights in the digital age. With an acronymic name-sake born from the redacted title of Richard Brautigan’s 1967 poem “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace”, the London-based studio Accept & Proceed and poet Tom Sharp were tasked with creating an identity that reflected the sincerity of subject matter that both Brautigan’s poem and AWO are speculating.
In boldly repurposing an aesthetic composed from simple, arguably out of date machinery – whilst at the same time referring to the relentless 1’s and 0’s of computer code that lay the foundations for our technological world – Accept & Proceed, Tom Sharp and AWO question whether the coupling of technology and society will reveal a utopian freedom or a dystopian oppression much like Brautigan’s poem. Sharp explains that although “typewriter art and Letraset are a world away from scrolling computer code”, they wanted to unify the two; in doing so creating a basis from brand writing and typography to exemplify one another.
Thriving in influences not solely from Brautigan’s post-modern brutalist prose but also concrete poetry and typewriter art, AWO’s identity maintains a balance of utmost consideration as well as a candidness through the sporadic yet deliberate forms created throughout. The result is a successful identity that reflects the sincerity of what both the poem and AWO represent. In doing so taking a somewhat dull context of data protection, that we typically find ourselves accepting with consideration, and turning it into something full of character. Benjamin Lee, Senior Designer at Accept & Proceed, tells us that “the typography needed to be authoritative, expressive and beautiful”, explaining that the typeface would need to convey “the poetic nature of the identity” as well as “function in dense report documents or letters to the supreme court”.
Their choice of Baskerville and Univers 57 within the identity is grounded in privacy and recognition. In choosing Baskerville, Accept & Proceed found a typeface that would provide a familiar face to the law environment as well as being incredibly legible. “Legibility was of enormous importance”, Lee explains, “Baskerville is tried and tested; it has been used for centuries in long-form text and to set poetry”. Univers provides not only a functional clarity to the identity but also a poetic contrast to Baskerville. These typographic choices were also made in consideration to the user’s data rights whilst embedded in AWO’s CMS, whereby neither of their chosen fonts contained trackers — a practice conducted by many type foundries today.