Sarah Hyndman runs TypeTasting, and her mission is “to change the way we think and talk about typography by making it fun and exciting for everybody. She specialises in making typography entertaining and relevant with humour, a dash of theatre and lashings of audience participation.
She creates multisensory installations, immersive events and innovative workshops designed to challenge assumptions.”
I asked her if I could talk to her as I think that her workshops are good examples of how she gets people to engage with typography. Most importantly, she aims to engage people from a non-design background. Just like me. However, she said that she was too busy (and looking at her schedule, I can understand why) and to look at her workshops.
So, tonight I went to one called Painting with fonts: geometric fonts that focussed on the Bauhaus. We had 3 tasks to create alphabets from as fewer shapes as possible. Here are my 3 goes.
There were good references that came up in conversation too:
- Understanding Molecular Typography
Rick Poynor, of University of Reading, thinks that looking at only typography is reductive:
Graphic design’s full potential as a means of communication comes from the integration of type and image. It hardly needs saying, one might think, and yet it often seems today that the emphasis falls too much on type at the expense of the image. At the point where we might be better able than ever before to proselytize the purposes of graphic design, because public awareness of type and design in general in the 21st century helps to make this possible, instead we fixate on one component— the “font,” simplistically reducing public perception of visual communication to a matter of expressing our personalities by our type choices.” POYNOR, R., 2017. “Typographic Selfies”? Print, 71(2), pp. 21-22.
This is a valid concern: good design is greater than the sum of its parts, and focusing on typography ignores to some extent the broader context in which it is placed. Because typography is commonly overlooked in everyday life, a narrow field of view is necessary for Stowe Framework to engage the community.
Kupferschmid takes a look at why readability has taken the place over idiosyncrasy:
“With hardly any other reason for the choice of one typeface over another, “readability” comes in handy when one has to sell a design decision to a client, especially a public institution or a corporate organization. The favoring of readability and legibility by clients keen to avoid untested or idiosyncratic designs may be understandable. …
Frutigerization of typographic landscapes is offset nowadays by a growing awareness of unique local lettering styles and increasing efforts to preserve them, not least through photographic documentation and archives. And young designers, who yearn for the hand-made typographic tradition to continue, slip into the vernacular and retro aesthetics in their work.”
“The tradition of letter forms past and present typical to a region is too rich and culturally significant to be relinquished to the “do-no-harm”, standardized typefaces like Frutiger. They can express so much more than just words and information. Letters are seen before they are read. Thankfully, recent developments in the digital media and young designers’ creative approaches to their work give some hope for the preservation of the older forms and the emergence of more varied and imaginative typefaces of contemporary cityscapes.”
Kupferschmid, I. (2015) ‘Between Frutigerization and tradition: diversity, standardization, and readability in contemporary typographic landscapes’, Social Semiotics, 25(2), pp. 151–164. doi: 10.1080/10350330.2015.1010319.
I like the idea that young designers are rebelling against the simplicity of modernism and creating an aesthetic that is easy to read while going back to previous references in history.