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20 October 2011

Kutlu Çanlıoğlu and Titus Nemeth: The raster tragedy

The development of a typographic accent for the BBC World Service – judging by the account of Kutlu Canlioglu and Titus Nemeth – was always going to be a challenging, and in some respects thankless one. But in the process of trying to reconcile 27 tongues and 9 languages, they came across, stumbled through and ultimately succeeded in resolving some fairly major challenges.

Some, not surprisingly, were those created by modern technology. Others, perhaps even more fascinating, sprang (or rather emerged) from the past. The intention of the global experience language (GEL) covers both a general atmosphere for the user experience, and, a specific and authentic reflection of Arabic script as it appears on the multiple news sites operated by the World Service.

The interface project started with a general review of the use of screen real estate across competitor news sites, and paid specific attention to the balance between hard and soft news stories – how were they placed, presented and consumed? The differences (Brazil: a mix of hard and soft, Russia: 100% hard news, China: the land of pop ups with everything) were then replicated in the BBC’s interfaces, some of which are launched and others due soon. But it was when Titus began work on the development of the typefaces themselves that a surprising historical and technical quirk created significant challenges alongside a genuine opportunity.

Kutlu Çanlıoğlu (photo: Gerhard Kassner)

Put simply, when Arabic was simplified for application on typewriters and in hot-metal, a number of critical aspects of the true character of Arabic type were lost in the process. The change in structure of single letterforms, which occurs to add or bring context in Arabic, was lost. So the constraints of previous technology meant that new Arabic type forms were – in some cases – simply repeating the truncated versions of the past where a whole range of accents and marks had been stripped back to just one or two alternatives.

In taking Arabic from metal to line-casting, the opportunity to re-appraise, extend and give a true reflection of one of the most wonderful aspects of Arabic typography was lost. Foundries simply copied the structure they adopted from one technology into the next. Certainly the quicker and more cost effective option, but also a lazy one too with no acknowledgement of what newer technologies offered. More importantly, no acknowledgment of whether the fundmentals of any non-Arabic font were truly and accurately represented. Titus naturally has opted to be a vanguard of acknowledging this missed opportunity and doing something about it.

From what he showed, the work he has developed alongside Kutlu and the BBC World Service probably gets as close as is currently available to a type family that reflects the nuances of Arabic as comprehensively as possible.

Text: Patrick Baglee

20 October 2011

Nat Hunter – Telling the Right Story

Nat Hunter (photo: Gerhard Kassner)

Still sitting there with my 3D glasses listening to Lynda and Dale discussing the prospect of eye implants in the near future – I am somewhat relieved when Nat Hunter goes back to basics ‘Story Telling’. Nat Hunter from Airside is also the only female speaker for today.

Firstly Nat tells us her own story how she went from Chemistry via Psychotherapy, where she got fascinated with the first Apple computer the became a programmer for the RBS and ended up joining the first MA in Interactive Multi Media at the Royal College of Art. At her graduation show her first creation was an Interactive Urinal called ‘Your Flow Makes it Go’

Airside started up us a collective between three very different creative minds – they realised very early on that their strength is narrative design. And it clearly is. Nat takes us through some of their projects and the once that really stuck with me is an animation for Think Tank exhibition at the Northern Gallery of Contemporay Art (http://www.airside.co.uk/work/projects/demos-power) about ‘What is Power?’ Confronted with endless data on spreadsheets Airside bring across the essence of power with very simple pictogram like graphics. It seems like such an opposite perspective to the previous speaker Dale Herigstad. Technology is simply a devise to tell the whole history of power in 3 minutes – a sword becomes a mobile phone as the shield becomes the brief case.

It is refreshing to listen to Nat as they tackle projects as big as the touch screen navigation for Virgin Atlantic with a target group of simply everyone. Asking the client of whether the project was a success the feedback is simply ” the bar bill has gone down”.

I can’t really relate to the project for the D&AD catalogue, and it seem an odd one out, but that might be simply a problem I have with sustainable design. She was brought on board as the sustainability consultant as part of her side kick project ‘Three Trees don’t Make a Forest’. I always wonder about all the costs created and time spend on bringing down the CO2 emissions – how much energy does this money and time waste? Maybe that question is for another day.

Erik Spiekermann and Nat Hunter (photo: Joana Niemeyer)

Last but not least an animation done for Aid Organisations which was shown in Haiti earlier this year. A beautiful animation bringing across the importance for communication in a crisis situation – something needed as much as food and medicine. For some reason this animation is not up on their website but do check out Airside’s website – specially if you are looking for a job as she told us Airside is looking.

I clearly won’t consider eye implants to experience information in a new way if people like Nat Hunter are still out there spoon feeding it to me in such a beautiful way.

Text: Joana Niemeyer, Graphic BirdWatching

20 October 2011

Dale Herigstad: When the rectangle is gone

Photo: Thorsten Wulff


There is a rectangle, possibly dictated by the printing press, that has defined the place where much of the information mankind has consumed has existed. And it is the confinement of this rectangle that has been at the heart of Dale Herigstad’s work. Or rather, his work explores what is beyond the confines – or what might, could and should be outside, in front of and behind of the rectangle. Wanting to look at this rectangle as the confines of the interface and then to push information back, bring it forward, give the user a genuine and dynamic involvement in the content is what is driving and fascinating him. Primarily, this is currently best evidenced in the choreography of menus on DVDs and the like, but increasingly the creativity of gaming offers interesting possibilities. This more immersive space is not just about making menus and chanel choices more interesting. Examples of work for CBS showed type in a dynamic setting where the written content moved with the surroundings to create a more dynamic experience.

If many of Dale’s examples stem from the world of entertainment and classic broadcast that doesn’t seem to limit the scope of his exploration (perhaps only the source of funding of the experimentation differs given the deeper pockets of gaming companies and broadcast organisations). So it was frustrating in some ways that the conclusion of Dale’s segment presented perhaps some of the most interesting questions, and possibilities. For example, what happens when we can take more control over advertising content, replacing the fixed unmoving bill board with a more immersive and self controlled advertising environment? What can we then switch on and off, speed through, or choose to take in? How will advertisers make the most of this new possibility?

Clearly, Dale is already at the front end of realising the possibilities that gestural control and 3D could offer and he’s already in the thick of testing out first principles with broadcasters and brands. At this point it may be worth a look ahead to the presentation due from Tim Fendley on Friday. The combination of wayfinding and gesture/3D control could start to get even more interesting. Ndeed, if Dale could be persuaded to stay on, there would be a fascinating discussion in the marriage of the challenges of self controlled information in a dimensional space and the important requirement of orientation and guidance in an urban context. Quite who would fund the exploration is anyone’s guess, but the results would certainly be worth waiting for. So, quite what we can expect when the rectangle finally bids us farewell is anyone’s guess. The next stage of the development of what this might become though is less about the shape that emerges and replaces it (‘cloud like’ was Dale’s suggestion) and more about considering what the user may genuinely require of such a change in our relationship with what currently remains flat unmoving space. This is way beyond entertainment, and though entertainment may help fund the exploration of possibilities, its true potential and impact will be founded in less trivial and more profound environments.

Text: Patrick Baglee, photo: Thorsten Wulff

12 October 2011

Calligraphic Exercises at TYPO London

Calligraphy Workshop at TYPO Berlin 2011 (Photo: Clemens Carlstedt)

Andreas Frohloff is not just the head of the type department at FSI, he is also a trained type designer and calligraphy artist. For years Andreas has organised workshops at TYPO Conferences, where delegates can try out different writing instruments, inks and papers. In his workshop Andreas provides TYPO visitors a haptic approach to type design that introduces a new type dimension.

Iron gall tint (Photo: Clemens Carlstedt)

Besides trying out your calligraphic skills delegates will hear a lot about the world of handwriting, including amusing historic anecdotes. You will get to know different kinds of pens, characteristics of certain tints and of course you will learn how to use them appropriately.

Andreas’ collection of historic and no so historic pens (Photo: Clemens Carlstedt)

Concentrating on the next steps (Photo: Clemens Carlstedt)

Workshop Atmosphere (Photo: Clemens Carlstedt)

Andreas’s quiet and concentrated exercise is valued by past delegates of his calligraphy workshops. These have become a beneficial start to hectic TYPO conference days, that are rich with variety and impressions.

Experiments in Yellow (Photo: Sonja Knecht)

Andreas’ Calligraphy Workshop will be held on Friday and on Saturday from 09:00 – 11:00am. Getting up early, pays dividends! The workshops are free of charge, with no extra registration necessary. It is advisable however, to appear early as possible as workshop places are limited.

If you don’t have a ticket yet? It’s high time you did! Register now.

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23 September 2011

TYPO London : Speakers : Karin von Ompteda

Karin von Ompteda explores type – and she is an expert on designing typefaces for the visually impaired. Karin is currently researching for a  PhD at the Royal College of Art in London, where her work is focused on integrating scientific and design approaches to typeface legibility. When she changed to art school after two biology degrees in her home country of Canada, she followed her heart. However her approach to type, its shapes and structures has roots in her biological background.

: Diversity of forms in text typefaces (2011)

Images were created by overlaying glyph outlines of between 70 and 200 fonts, illustrating weight and width variants within the typeface families of interest. Dark areas show the regions that most of the investigated fonts have in common. Photo: Karin von Ompteda

Karin has just completed a project about the diversity of forms in commonly used text fonts. The visualisation explores variation in letterform across twenty of the most important sans serif and serif text typefaces. The images were created by overlaying glyph outlines of regular fonts and adjusting their opacity.  The darker areas represent the degree of correspondence in form across the varying typeface designs.

Correspondence across typeface designs was quantified using a scientific imaging program which precisely calculates areas of darkness.

: Pubic Font, Meat Alphabet (2010)

Karin describes her growing passion for typefaces: “There is a moment in every designer’s life when you start to see letters in everything — like finding the face of Jesus in your toast.”

The design of this  font is based on scanned unmodified pubic hair. It includes all letters, figures and a few punctuation marks. Photo: Karin von Ompteda.

The meat font project was conceived walking home through China Town, where animal parts are on display in shop windows. Photo: Karin von Ompteda

Karin examined meat at a number of butchers and bought the cuts where the bones resembled letters. The final forms were then created by removing flesh or bone. Photographing the letters on a clean cutting board transformed the carnage into an alphabet.

Karin states “I suppose I am drawn toward the repulsive — there is a certain satisfaction in transforming something off-putting into something that people want to look at, and might even find aesthetic pleasure in.”  (Thames & Hudson Blog)

She contributed to the contemporary lettering books Handmade Type Workshop (Charlotte Rivers, 2011, Thames & Hudson) and The 3D Type Book (Agathe Jacquillat and Tomi Vollauschek, Laurence King, 2011)

: Letter Fray, custom font (2008)

For Fortune Magazine an Alphabet was developed from laser-cut black linen. Photo: Karin von Ompteda

Fortune Magazine publishes a yearly special edition on contemporary fashion. For the 2008 edition they commissioned custom type that reflected the dark heavy feel of the season. The brief was met by reinterpreting Whitman, the magazine’s house font, in frayed laser-cut linen.

Individual letters were laser-cut from heavy black linen. Once the laser-cut process was complete, each letter was extracted from the surrounding linen, producing frays at areas of incomplete laser penetration. Letters were then positioned and scanned at a high resolution to be used in the publication, resulting in forms that were at home in Fortune Magazine – yet decidedly unique.

Only recently Letter Fray was included in the typographic magazine slanted, typographic experiments (15).

: Illustrations

Bird's Eye, Karin von Ompteda

Bird’s-Eye, Photo: Karin von Ompteda

Karin’s illustrations and collages were published in a number of graphic and design magazines, such as Semi-Permanent, Coupe Magazine, The Walrus Magazine, Zeixs Illustration, Creative Quarterly, Applied Arts Magazine …

: Map of institutional partners of RCA, vizualization (2009)

A visualization representing the 140 MPhil and PhDResearch students was commissioned by RCA as a large-format poster for its 2009 exhibition, and a condensed version for the exhibition catalogue. Photo: Karin von Ompteda

Karin examined the relationships of  research students at the Royal College of Art to their funding agencies and institutional partners. The typographically-driven approach resulted in a functional piece that did not require a legend. The design process exploited the diversity of forms within Lineto’s Akkurat and Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ Didot typefaces to differentiate between the kinds of information chosen to represent each student.

: Oil and water, workshop critical visualization (2010)

Workshop presentation by by James Cadogan (Design Products) & Daniel Foster-Smith (Design Interactions). The oil represents the percentage of people who prioritise the economy, and the water represents the percentage who prioritise the environment. Photo: Karin von Ompteda

This project was aiming at visu­al­izing  data as a crit­ical prac­tice for design and art. Students explo­red the World Values Survey and inte­grated its data in visu­ally told sto­ries. The cen­tral chal­lenge was to pro­duce chal­lenges to cur­rent thinking. The workshop intended to draw light on the contributions of artists and designer to visualize data thus evoking con­tro­ver­sial discussions on sub­jectivity and aes­thetics.

Karin remarked on the overall aim: “Ultimately, the final projects taken as a whole – employing the art and design arsenal of beauty, metaphor, emo­tion, humour, and nar­ra­tive – will address the issue of what cre­atives bring to the field of data visu­al­i­sa­tion.”

The workshops were ran together with Peter Crnokrak (The Luxury of Protest)  at the Royal College of Art and Sint-Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design.

At TYPO London 2011 Karin, will take us to the place where natural sciences meet design. She will demonstrate how to fit in pattern and structures to an understanding of where we are and what we are  doing.

Interested? Register now!

12 September 2011

TYPO speeches that moved us: Carlos Segura – (My) Type of Life

Segura Inc. and T26 have received numerous awards, including one from the Tokyo Type Directors Club, The Society of Typographic Arts, the New York Art Directors Club, the New York Type Directors Club, and the American Center for Design. In 2004, Carlos Segura was named one of the 21st Century’s 100 best designers and was honoured with Europe’s Red Dot Award.

In his speech at TYPO Berlin 2010, Carlos talked about his personal journey – his disco band and setting a course for his life in the creative business doing what he enjoyed and wanted to do, while being successful: “Being the drummer, driving the truck and designing the flyer.”

Can we adopt his formula to our lives in the Europe of today? Come to TYPO London “Places” 2011 and find out!

Book now for TYPO London!

8 September 2011

TYPO London 2011 : Speakers : Joachim Sauter

Joachim Sauter co-founded  Art+Com in the mid eighties in Berlin. The company evolved from an interdisciplinary group of designers, architects and artists from the Berlin University of the Arts as well as hackers from the ChaosComputerClub. The group used the upcoming digital technology not only as a tool, but potential (mass) medium. Founded as an non-profit organisation to explore the new medium’s possibilities for art, design, science and technology, Art+Com did not commence commercial projects not before the mid 1990s.

Joachim studied visual communications and film and is today head of Art+Com’s creative department. Since 1991 he has been Professor of digital media design at the University of Arts in Berlin. In 2001 he took up the position of Professor of media design and art at UCLA. He exhibits internationally in museums and has received numerous awards in the area of media design and art. He has completed numerous projects in the last decade:

: Istallation at the National Exhibition “The New Austria, 2005

250 meters long Austrian flag at Belvedere Castle, Vienna

Exhibition on 50 years of Austrian independence. Art+Com installed a 250 m flag through Belvedere Palace, Vienna. Photo: Art+Com

Belvedere Palace hosted an exhibition on the theme of 100 years of Austrian history. The exhibition was designed by three parties: the walls by an exhibition designer, historic objects by an art curator and paintings and the space between were designed by Art+Com. As part of this process, the Berlin studio installed a 250m long Austrian flag, as a continuous filament running through the space, explaining and commenting on the national history. The flag was extended by weaving 17 media installations into it.

:  “Jurascope” for the Natural History Museum in Berlin, 2007

Art+Com mediatelescopes, Museum of Natural History Berlin, 2007

Visitors looking through the Jurascope, at first see the skeletons in the hall. By then turning the Jurascope, they can choose a dinosaur and start the animation. Photo: Art+Com

When Berlin’s Museum of Natural History redesigned the permanent exhibition in 2007, they commissioned ART+COM to develop interactive elements to revive the huge dinosaur skeletons in the main hall. Art+Com emerged with media telescopes that showed how one after the other inner organs, muscles, and skin will appear. The animals returned to their natural habitats and started moving, feeding and hunting before the spectators eyes.

:  Video Installation »Solar System and Cosmo«, Natural History Museum Berlin, 2007

Art+Com Media Installation »Solar System and Cosmos«, 2007, Berlin

Media installation that audio visually depicts the development of the universe, turning an historic staircase into Exhibition space. Photo: Art+Com

Berlin’s National History Museum also commissioned Art+Com to add the historic staircase for the first time as an exhibition hall. Art+Com designed an exhibit that centered around the “Solar System and Cosmos”. For the exhibition’s main piece – a media installation that audio visually depicts the development of the universe – Art+Com made use of the 14m staircase height. From the highest point of the ceiling, a circular projection screen with a diameter of over three metres descends towards the viewers. It shows  in fast motion how the universe developed from the big bang to the present. The voyage through time ends in a flight towards the earth, to Berlin and through the museum’s roof. At its lowest point, the viewers can see themselves in the projection as a live image.

: Kinetic Installation for the BMW Museum in Munich, 2008

Art+Com, 2008, Kinetic Installation, BMW Museum, Munich

The Kinetic Sculpture serves as a metaphorical translation of the process of form-finding in art and design. Photo: Art+Com

In the beginning, moving chaotically, then evolving to several competing forms that eventually collectively morph into the finished object, the kinetic sculpture creates an artistic visualisation of the process of form-finding. The transitions are realized by 714 metal spheres, hanging from thin steel wires attached to individually-controlled stepper motors and covering the area of six square meters. The animation includes a seven minute long mechatronic narrative.

: Kinetic Installation of prosthetic hands, Shanghai World Expo, 2010

Art+Com, 2010, Kinetic Installation, Expo, Schanghai

“Mobility” has just won the Golden Star of ADC Europe in the environmental design category. The kinetic mirror installation was created for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. It is currently exhibited at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz. Photo: Art+Com

Art+Com created dynamic poetic mirror installation for the World Expo Shanghai 2010 by Art+Com. One hundred prosthetic hands revolving around their own vertical axis and controlled by individual motors  were arranged in a matrix. The mirrors reflect the beam of a floodlight into the room and onto the wall opposite. They followed a computative dramaturgy of first gliding chaotically along elliptical paths and finally coming together to form the Chinese character for “movement”.

: Joachim Sauter’s 20 Minute talk at Creative Mornings, Berlin, 2011

Joachim Sauter, 20 Minute Talk at Creative Mornings (English), Berlin, August 2011

As the first speaker of the “Creative Mornings” Series in Berlin, Sauter impressed with a selection of his ideas. Photo: FontShop

In the last couple of weeks, Joachim opened Creative Mornings Berlin, talking about the desire of the realistic experience in a digital world. His twenty minute talk can be viewed on Vimeo.

At TYPO London 2011, Joachim will surprise us with his most recent projects and guide us through his unique place of three dimensional computation.

26 August 2011

Four questions for… Eva-Lotta Lamm

Eva-Lotta Lamm’s “TYPO Sketchnotes” from this year’s Berlin conference, turned out to be the most engaging documentation of a TYPO conference yet, as born out by the frequency of tweets and blogs referring to her work. Eva is a freelance UX Designer. She previously headed the business design team at Skype, worked as interaction designer for Yahoo! in London and as lead designer for Kahn + Associates in Paris. Besides her daytime mission of making the web a more understandable, usable and delightful place, she regularly takes sketch notes at all sorts of talks and conferences and recently turned these into a little book. Eva teaches sketching and runs “UX Sketch Club”, a monthly(-ish) meet up for people who are interested in experimenting with sketching and sharing their work. We’re working out a way making her sketch notes to become a more active and engaging part of TYPO London!

Which work are you particularly proud of? Which work best represents your style or approach?
Besides working as a User Experience Designer as my ‘main’ job, I regularly visit design talks and conferences where I take ‘sketchnotes’, which is more visual form of note taking that combines written notes with sketches and drawings. I’ve been sharing these notes for several years online on Flickr and in January, I self-published a book on lulu.com that collects all notes from the last two years as I wanted to take the notes back to their original format, ink on paper. I got invited to sketchnote this year’s Typo Berlin earlier this year and I am really happy and honoured to be re-invited to Typo London to capture the talks of a stellar line-up of speakers.

Read more »

21 August 2011

TYPO London 2011 : Speakers : Tom Uglow

Tom Uglow leads Google’s Creative Lab in Europe. In his projects Uglow explores the endless opportunities that digital space provides for new ideas and at the same time always keeps focused on  his marketing targets. Uglows interests range from Python coding to knitting.

Always having an open eye on user generated content, Uglow expressed his admiration for the “vokaloid” Miku Hatsune at the BBC 2 culture show.

: Admired Projects

Singing Avatar Hatsume

Singing hologram Miku Hatsune at a life performance. The songs are written for her by the audience as part of an interactive game.

Uglow’s own recent involvements include  Life in a Day, Chrome, Art Project, the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, Search On, StreetView and Android, to name a few. Uglow’s projects are signified by a creative, collaborative mix that focuss on user experience, consisting of targeted marketing realised with compelling enjoyable content.

Uglow has explored many of the places that marketing can take us to, some of which he will present at TYPO London.

Samples of projects by Tom Uglow

:  Android Translation Application

Android app for animal voice translation

Uglow on his translation trailer for an android application: “we are [even] translating for animals, french is really not a problem”.

:  Sales Overlay in a Video

Diesel Spring, Summer 2011 catalogue

Interactive video, 2010: “let’s make a really cool music video and along with the really cool music video we can sell hats”

: Search Stories

Tom Uglow: »Parisian Love«

Contemporary variation of an American in Paris, 2009. Further search stories by google on google.

: YouTube Symphony Orchestra

YouTube Symphony Orchestra

101 musicians from 33 countries chosen on YouTube made up the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. They met in Sydney for a week long festival, captured on YouTube (2011).

In a ten minute talk filmed in 2010, Uglow summarized his credo about video online:

1. let viewers take part
2. enhance the experience
3. confound expectations
4. be authentic
5. be fun

At TYPO 2011 we may find out whether Uglow’s top five still make the essence of online marketing success.

19 August 2011

Four questions for… Julian Zimmermann

King Bansah and Julian Zimmermann, Berlin 2010 (photo: Gerhard Kassner)

Following a longstanding request by TYPO regulars to see a client and their designer on stage together talking about a joint project, German student Julian Zimmermann and African King Cephas Bansah were invited to TYPO Berlin in 2010 to present their cooperation. And what a memorable session it turned out to be! The extremely professional keynote, combined with the natural charm of the two speakers, literally brought many delegates to tears and garnered spontaneous standing ovations.

Julian Zimmermann’s corporate design for King Bansah is a truly one-of-a-kind project. Bansah is a real African king. He lives in Ludwigshafen, Germany, works as a car-mechanic, and governs his people from there. The corporate design uses gold ink on black and white stock, and incorporates a unique African motif. Julian also designed the packaging for King Bansah’s royal beer, AKOSOMBO. He currently works as a freelance designer and is also a member of design studio Deutsche & Japaner.

Photo: Thorsten Wulff

Which work are you particularly proud of? Which work best represents your style or approach?
Easy question :) Of course the identitiy for King Bansah!

As TYPO is all about design: are there any examples for very good and not so good design you recently ran across?
I really enjoyed the publication »Most beautiful Swiss Books 2010«. The scenography is so nice! Hmm … what was not so good? I think nothing especially.

Required reading: What are currently your favorite interesting/beautiful publications/books/interesting links?
Recently, I tend to read websites more than books. A good example for an inspiring website would be

The theme for this year´s TYPO London is places. What are your favorite places in London? Where do like to hang out? Any places you would be willing to share?
I’ve never been in London in my life. So I need some tips :)

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