Design Piracy Institute (DPI) is an applied thesis project developed at the School of Visual Arts’ MFA in Design Criticism (D-Crit)—now known as the MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism, by Justin Zhuang on piracy and industrial design. DPI’s design identity is inspired by traditional forms and perceptions of piracy. It uses the imperfect and awkward English form of the MS Gothic/Mincho family, a versatile and interchangeable Japanese typeface, as a nod to the amateur, the wrong, and the illegal — a homage to how this freely available Microsoft Office typeface is often used on the design of pirated products as well. The idea is further explored with the intentional untampered kerning (default tracking) of the wordmark, challenging the traditional notions of ‘good’ design.
This type-based system is accompanied by a graphical element in the form of a yellow ‘X’, which recalls watermark symbols and also the cross found on the stereotypical skull and bones ☠ logo of the pirate flag. Unlike watermarks that protect, however, this symbol dissolves when documents marked with DPI’s identity is photocopied.