Making things Curious

Curiosity shop


Jenni Dixon


PhD student, Jenni Dixon, is working on a typography research project named ‘Making things curious’. The project examines the role that print played in the production, promotion and consumption of luxury items that were manufactured in Birmingham from 1730 – 1830.

During this time, luxury items were known as ‘curiosities’ as the manufacturers created them as a cabinet of curiosity to admire. These objects would awaken the unseen, change expectations, and visually stimulate wonder. Historians have stated that this was a ‘culture of curiosity’ which covered science, technology, exploration and social change.


  • To discover how print was used to spread the culture of curiosity and its aspects to manufacturers and how was this interpreted in the design and production of objects
  • To find out what the role of print culture was in the promotion and idea of the objects, and in transforming perceptions of Birmingham
  • To research into how new printing technologies enabled a transformation in the design and types of shop displays used to entice the curious consumer
  • To explore how the production, promotion and consumption were linked.


This project will expand people’s knowledge on the role that printing was used by manufacturers to inspire curiosity in people in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It will also find out more about the culture of curiosity at the time, and what the people of this era were interested in.

Find out more on the Typographic Hub website