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20 October 2012

Matthew Butterick: Rebuilding the Typographic Society

Photo © Gerhard Kassner


Matthew Butterick’s
philosophy is about taking risks and making things happen.

Graduated from Harvard, being a typographer, a writer (‘Typography for Lawyers’) and a lawyer, he clearly and accurately raised the importance of the written word, within the graphic design industry. He asks us two main questions: what makes typography valuable and how can we rebuild the typographic society?

Written ideas have made communication far easier, it has also had a huge emphasis on our storage cultural system; we teach children to read and write. Typography is not only about ‘making things pretty’ but it is also about social interaction, where the best writing embeds the best human values. Matthew Butterick is not talking about social media such as Twitter and Facebook, which are only here to reinforce our ego and for marketing reasons, but it is about a face to face interaction.

The writer William Zinsser perfectly expresses this thought about typography in his book ‘’On Writing Well’: ‘Writing is visual, it catches the eye before it has the chance to catch the brain’.

Nevertheless, nowadays technology is taking over, we’re not in the 1920’s anymore, where fonts were only about crafts and inspiration. Almost as a challenge for the public, Matthew Butterick compares technology to Godzilla, who would burn the creative industry, but would also give the opportunity to rebuild.

So how can we give back social values to typography?

He offers us four principles he stands for: ‘sell possibilities’, ‘recruit typographers’, ‘practice what you preach’ and finally, ‘create difficult projects, but do it well’.

Don’t be afraid, believe and experience, and things will come to you.

By Héloise Jutteau 

19 October 2012

TYPO London 2012 has commenced!

The seats of Logan Hall and the those of the second stage at Jeffery Hall are taken. Opening speakers Sara De Bondt in the main hall and Anna Gerber & Britt Iversen from Visual Editions on the second stage kicked off this year’s TYPO London conference. Today and tomorrow more than 30 speakers will investigate the social impact on design.

Typo London 2012, "Social" Sara De Bondt

Sara De Bondt opening this year’s TYPO London conference with her speach “The Office of Statistics“, photo by Gerhard Kassner

There will be a live streaam for those who can not make ist this year:  At twelve o’clock you can watch Anthony Burrill’s speach “Working Hard and Being Nice to People” at or live stream site. There will be further covering of the conference to which everyone is invited to follow or to contribute. Select your favourite channel to follow the two day summit:

For the spontaneous: There are some day passes left for today or tomorrow. TYPO London takes place at the Institute of Education LondonUniversity of London.

8 October 2012

Four (or so) Questions to … Kirsty Carter & Emma Thomas

APFEL-web

Entering a visual dialogue with the spectator: the works of London-based A Practice for Everyday Life draw international attention. Recent projects include the exhibition design and publication of “Bauhaus: Art as Life“ at Barbican Art Gallery and a new visual identity for Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. Working on everything from brand identity, print to signage, wayfinding and exhibition design, Kirsty Carter and Emma Thomas enjoy investigating, exploring, collecting and experimenting to arrive at outcomes that surprise, delight and engage on many levels.

Currently they are working on the graphic identity of a new cross-disciplinary arts space in Hong Kong and the design of a major new retrospective publication for artist Linder. At  the TYPO London Kirsty and Emma will show us how their communication skills create settings that one feels inescapably drawn into. (Photo: Carol Sachs)

1. Which work are you particularly proud of? Which work best represents your style or approach?

As well as our work for The Hepworth Wakefield, Postmodernism and Tristram Shandy, which were featured in an earlier TYPO blog post here, there are a handful of other projects that we think represent us as an agency very well. In no particular order…

Title: Bauhaus: Art As Life
Project: Exhibition Design, Catalogue & Marketing Materials
Client: Barbican

Bauhaus: Art as Life at Barbican Art Gallery was the largest exhibition of Bauhaus work to be held in the UK for almost 40 years. Alongside architects Carmody Groarke, we were challenged to work within the Barbican Art Gallery’s complex layout to create an installation and graphic scheme that would lead visitors through an exhibition narrative encompassing over 400 Bauhaus works. Our design aimed to contextualise the content of the exhibition whilst avoiding pastiche. Graphically, it was informed by an awareness of the Bauhaus’ own principles of colour, structure and typography – painted walls, bold panels and supergraphics draw together objects, themes and ideas, and the typeface used throughout is a contemporary revival of the letterpress typeface used within the Bauhaus itself, Breite Grotesk.

Bauhaus exhibition at Barbican book cover © APFEL

 

Bauhaus exhibition at Barbican © APFEL

 

Bauhaus exhibition at Barbican marketing material © APFEL

 

Bauhaus exhibition at Barbican © APFEL

 

Title: The Art and Craft of Richard Woods
Project: Book Design
Client: Lund Humphries

This book showcases the work of Richard Woods, an artist and designer who practices at the convergence of a variety of disciplines ranging from architecture to furniture design—it’s a scrapbook of his works, ideas and production processes. We worked closely with Woods for the book and, after extensive dialogue and several visits to his studio, decided on a format that emphasised the strong visual character and impact of his work, with graphic interventions kept to a minimum. Photographs and installation shots are presented full-bleed, interspersed with sketches, working notes and facsimiles of press releases, email exchanges and magazine articles. Divider pages cut through the book as the only intervention amidst the assortment of collected ephemera, and on the cover, the title is silkscreened over an image from one of Woods’ works.

Richard Woods book – Lund Humphries © APFEL

 

Richard Woods book – Lund Humphries © APFEL

 

Richard Woods book – Lund Humphries © APFEL

 

Title: Design Research Unit 1942–72
Project: Book Design
Client: Koenig Books / Cubitt Gallery

Design Research Unit was formed in 1943 as the first ‘full service’ design consultancy in the UK, bringing together expertise in architecture, graphics and industrial design. Based on original research, this retrospective publication was produced to accompany last year’s touring exhibition about the DRU, curated by Michelle Cotton.

This project was a graphic designer’s dream to work on. Its design took its cues from a broad range of DRU materials including early studio documents, advertisements and commonly-used typefaces. The book is set mostly in Monotype Grotesque, which was used widely in their studio work, and Futura Schlagzeile is used on the cover and throughout as the headline typeface, echoing an early advertisement for DRU predecessor the Industrial Design Partnership. The cover displays a quote taken from a leaflet (c.1943) that Design Research Unit supplied to prospective clients, along with artists and designers, outlining what the agency stood for and how their design process worked.

Design Research Unit – Koenig Books / Cubitt Gallery © APFEL

 

Design Research Unit – Koenig Books / Cubitt Gallery © APFEL

 

Design Research Unit – Koenig Books / Cubitt Gallery © APFEL

 

 

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4 October 2012

Four (or so) Questions to … Matthew Butterick

Matthew Butterick is a writer, dig­i­tal type designer and attor­ney in Los Ange­les. At TYPO London, he will be speaking about “Rebuilding the Typographic Society” .

 

1. Which work are you particularly proud of? Which work best represents your style or approach?

At any given time, the project I like best is the one I’ve most recently completed; the project I like least is the one I’m currently wrestling with. So while I curse at the programming that’s been necessary to pull off my next font, I’ve been able to better enjoy my last font, Equity. In particular, I’ve been doing more writing with it.

 

Matthew Butterick’s Equity font

 

 

Matthew Butterick’s Berlin Sans font

 

2. The theme of this year’s TYPO London is »Social«. Do you consider design to be a social discipline? Which design project do you consider to be particularly socially relevant?

At TYPO Berlin, I talked about the idea that the highest form of design is when designers invest their humanity in the objects they make. That sense of humanity, in turn, gets transmitted to users of those objects. But by characterizing design as a distinctively human communication, I’m also saying that design is a social act. So in my talk at TYPO London, I’ll be investigating that idea further.

Matthew Butterick on stage at TYPO Berlin © G. Kassner

Intersecting this idea is the broader historical fact that the printed word is one of the most socially vital inventions of the last thousand years. For those of us involved with type design and typography, I think it’s important to keep at least one finger on that golden thread and its possibilities. But that resolve is tested in any era when printing costs drop rapidly, for instance the last 20 years, during which the Internet has taken printing costs nearly to zero. If designers don’t rise to the occasion, who will?

 

3. A conference like TYPO London is in itself an obvious example for a social event: what are you especially looking forward to?

As a speaker, TYPO is an event that I wish I could attend a second time purely as an audience member. The TYPO talks are always a great cross-pollination of design thinking with all kinds of other thinking. As designers, we all need to be occasionally reminded how large the domain of design can be.

 

4. Required reading/watching: What are currently your favorite interesting/beautiful publications, exhibitions, books, movies and/or websites?

I found Joost Grootens’s recent book »I swear I use no art at all« to be completely absorbing. I’m also a huge fan of New York magazine, which I consider the best-written and best-designed American magazine.

 

 

1 October 2012

Four (or so) Questions to … Eike König

HORT is a Berlin based graphic design studio made up of uniquely selected, creative and spirited people. Throughout its existence Hort has been a constant pioneer in re-inventing the visual language of contemporary graphic design. HORTʼs ongoing experimental enthusiasm inspires budding young designers and has become an influential source amongst contemporaries.

When away from his Humble HORT Hub, founder Eike König takes on the role of mentor. He is currently the Professor of Graphic Design and Illustration at the HfG University of Arts, Offenbach, Germany. He conducts numerous creative workshops and lectures internationally. His knowledge and experience have taken him as far as South America and Australia, sharing his stories with different audiences at acclaimed design conferences. Lead Academy recognised HORT’s hard work, awarding the studio Germany’s Visual Leader of the year 2011. Here are Eike’s answers, from HORT to HEART, as he would say!

1. Which work are you particularly proud of? Which work best represents your style or approach?

Each work I have done so far is somehow important and to name one wouldn’t be right. On each job there’s something you can learn. I’m proud of how I run my studio. I am proud of the people I work with. This makes me more happy and fulfilled than money or success.

 

2. The theme of this year’s TYPO London is »Social«. Do you consider design to be a social discipline? Which design project do you consider to be particularly socially relevant?

I think everything you do (besides dreaming and things that are just related to you and no one else) has some kind of social impact and is therefore relevant – more or less. I prefer micro social awareness – whatever you do will come back to you. So: Yes, design is a social discipline because it is a way of communication – a very strong one.

 

3. A conference like TYPO London is in itself an obvious example for a social event: what are you especially looking forward to?

To be honest, what I really love is to meet people. This is a good chance to talk to people I know already and to those I will meet for the first time. It’s good to build connections and to find out if there are intersections (not sure if this is the right word – crossovers?). Over the last years I have spoken at many conferences and sometimes you find a crossover, and then come back home having made a new friend. It couldn’t be better. Also it’s nice to listen to other people’s stories. You can learn a lot from their experience, even if their passions are different from your own.

 

4. Required reading/watching: What are currently your favorite interesting/beautiful publications, exhibitions, books, movies and/or websites?

 

25 September 2012

Four (or so) Questions to … Rick Banks

Rick Banks makes books speak. The highly acclaimed Copy Book on how advertisers create texts won him this years D&AD Award. His book design teams up with its reader. Rick is a designer, art director and typographer, working under the moniker Face37. In 2011 he gave the Musician‘s Union, one of he oldest unions in the world, a modern graphic voice that supports their issues. The rebranding included Signage, stationery, guidelines and web design and it was accoladed with the D&AD award 2011 for books. Rick‘s works were shown in The Guardian, Monocle, Creative Review, Grafik, Computer Arts, Wired or Digital Arts. At TYPO London Rick will demonstrate how graphic issues are social issues.

 

The Copy Book from Face37 on Vimeo.

 

1. Which work are you particularly proud of? Which work best represents your style or approach?

Tough question to answer when you’re your own biggest critic…I’m not particularly proud of any one project in particular as I am always striving to do better than the last project. My design tends to focus quite heavily on typography.

 

2. The theme of this year’s TYPO London is »Social«. Do you consider design to be a social discipline? Which design project do you consider to be particularly socially relevant?

Design should always be social in one way or the other. The word ‘social’ has so many meanings and you can break it down into so many things: Community. Environment. Communication. Politics. Conversation etc.

Why Not Associates & Gordon Young’s latest project, ‘Comedy Carpet’ had all of the above. The ‘Comedy Carpet’ features the catchphrases, jokes and names of more than 1,000 comedians at the foot of Blackpool Tower. It features 160,000 individually-cut letters spelling out the phrases. Environmentally, it regenerated the sea front including vital sea defence works. It’s also become a huge tourist attraction for Blackpool (see Trip Advisor). Socially it created jobs. Gordon Young set up a manufacturing company in Hull, just to manufacture the granite slabs of typographic ‘carpet’. Hull has the highest unemployment in the country.The community saw one of the largest prices of public art ever commissioned. A celebration of Blackpool’s tradition of comedy that will have a legacy for over 100 years. A piece of design that will make people smile and talk about comedy. Ken Dodd even argued with Blackpool council when they decided to demolish parts of it.

It also looked bloody good — you can’t go wrong with 320 giant slabs of type. And…it didn’t make it into the D&AD annual. Make of that what you will.

The Comedy Carpet Project with Gordon Young Photo © 2011 why not associates limited

 

The Comedy Carpet Project with Gordon Young Photo © 2011 why not associates limited

The Comedy Carpet Project with Gordon Young Photo © 2011 why not associates limited

 

3. A conference like TYPO London is in itself an obvious example for a social event: what are you especially looking forward to?

When I go to design conferences like TYPO, I’m always more intrigued to hear about the journey and process of a design project. Nowadays there is always a knee-jerk reaction to design, especially on blogs. Designers too often focus on the aethestic. Conferences like TYPO offer speakers a platform to talk about the process, strategy and story behind projects.

It will be good if a King comes along again!

 

4. Required reading/watching: What are currently your favorite interesting/beautiful publications, exhibitions, books, movies and/or websites?

  • Book: Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography— a brilliant read about one of the best CEO’s AND creative directors that has ever lived.
  • Movie: The Raid — Pure unadulterated violence.
  • Music: James Zabiela Resident Advisor Podcast Episode 319 ‘Born Electric’

James Zabiela Resident Advisor Podcast Episode 319 ‘Born Electric’ by jameszabiela

12 September 2012

Speaker James Jarvis for Nike

Onwards, 2009

Animation by James Jarvis, directed by Richard Kenworthy, music courtesy of Caribou. Sponsored by Nike.

22 October 2011

(Bald) Condensed Views Delayed Due To Hectic Schedule

Yesterday I had a wonderful evening catching up with my San Francisco colleagues Michael Pieracci and Meghan Arnold in Kaslik, a simply lovely Lebanese restaurant run by lovely people serving lovely food. Recommended! This meant however that I only got back to my hotel after midnight. That’s what you get when the last presentation only ends at 21:00 / 9 PM, my only qualm with TYPO conferences. Fun bit of trivia – returning to the hotel was made so much easier when we hit one of the miniliths Tim Fendley and his team designed for Legible London. They do work wonderfully.

Today I wanted to follow Type Day in Jeffrey Hall, but the dodgy internet connection is virtually non-existent there. As people seem to be following my live Twitter reports – which earned me quite a few new followers – I’ll stick to proceedings in Logan Hall. My full report will have to be written in between everything else and after the conference ends, so I don’t know when it will be ready. One thing I can already say is that yesterday’s program was quite intense, diverse and very interesting, with only one presentation lacking a little. Today is just as exciting. This will most probably go down as a memorable first edition of a very well run conference. Kudos to the organizers and the team.

Text: Yves Peters a.k.a. Bald Condensed, courtesy of The FontFeed





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