This project awarded me membership to ISTD and is an answer to the 2014 brief “Everything About One Thing.” I chose to do everything about the history of Zero. We use the number everyday but its history is mired in rejection, fear and disgust. Philosophers, kings, and popes were terrified of the concept as it represented the void. The text is taken from Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife, an entertaining layman's guide to zero's history.

The book is bound with a coptic stitch, a style that originated in Egypt where the story of zero begins. This bind leaves the book spineless with two separate acetate covers. The idea of the covers being that they are present and essential yet easily ignored.

As each new civilization important to the development of zero is introduced there is a large illustration of how that culture wrote zero. I hand painted each character using black Chinese ink.

A timeline runs throughout the book. It points out major dates in the progression of zero as well as important historical events to give the reader some context.

Photography throughout the book is halftone. We visualise zero as a circle and halftone is imagery made entirely of black circles. This provides a visual consistency to the imagery and hints at the subject.

Throughout DIN 1451 is used as a display face, its modular nature reminiscent of the math and geometry in the book. Robert Slimbach's versatile Garamond Premier Pro is used for the body copy, captions, and events on the timeline.

The book includes several appendices. In order to distinguish them from the main text I used ragged-right columns and an alternative display face—Brian Lucid's Barcode Three.


14 April 2014