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Salty Suds is an ISTD membership-awarded project that began in the final lockdown of 2020/21. I followed the prompt of biophilic design, which is design that connects people and nature within built environments and communities. The sea swimming culture in Ireland is a massive part of people’s routines and social lives. While our main social amenities were closed due to the pandemic, people of every age flocked to the sea for relief from the mundane. My goal was to create a typographic piece that allows the reader to experience the presence of mind, calming effect, and mindfulness that comes from sea swimming, while also learning about the multiple ways sea swimming benefits us.

I used a coptic binding technique to allow me to have a naked, exposed spine, echoing the vulnerable act of stripping off we must do before we plunge into the water. I chose to cut perspex covers, as this allows the edges of the book to reflect light in a similar way water does. The distortion produced when moving the perspex provides a sensory, immersive typography experience reflecting that of diving in or peering into the water.
The chapters are composed of four essays, each tackling a different aspect of sea swimming and how it benefits us today in a pandemic-riddled world. A short poem from Irish poets opens each chapter, each one exploring the sea, showing that the sea is as much of a cultural experience as a physical one.
My father is a daily sea swimmer and keeps a daily record of his experiences. January to April 2020 chapters in the diary trace his swimming routine as it develops through the emergence of new restrictions and ‘strange days’ showing the power of routine and the steadiness of the sea, even in uncertain times. The saltwater-splashed ink and rough handwriting informed my visual language and secondary typefaces for the book. Please check out my website for more detail.

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