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  • Watch: Tobias-Frere Jones on that geometric sans-serif reign & the risks of going retro in type

    Typography is one of the core elements in setting apart a brand’s identity and geometric sans-serif fonts are dominating the visual language circa 2019, yet this is not something that happened overnight.

    As awarded type designer Tobias Frere-Jones, principal of type foundry Frere-Jones Type, notes in his insightful interview for Ad Age the trend “has been building for a number of years.” Well, is it over?

    “There’ve been some other trends slowly building over the last few years one of which is a nostalgia, sometimes full-on camp, a reference to the typography of the 1960s and ’70s, like the titles for ‘Stranger Things.’ This has triggered all kinds of memories for all kinds of people because it was done so spot-on—a Proustian moment of going back in time” comments Frere-Jones, adding the risks in investing to that nostalgia feeling which bonds people together.

    ITC Benguiat, the decorative serif typeface designed by legendary Ed Benguiat and released by the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) in 1977 is a real star in Netflix's hit series "Stranger Things."

    For Frere-Jones using a typeface is a dangerous choice “because each one of these has a set of associations already attached to them... If you take Windsor and set it centered, just a couple of words, white on black, you will not be able to think of anything else but a Woody Allen movie.” 

    For the acclaimed type designer branding succeeds when it infuses nostalgia with fresh elements to create something new.

    “A good type designer can step in and sort of fill in the history that may not be so apparent. Like the building inspector can inspect the foundation of the house that you’d like to live in, [typographers] can steer this away from something that might have some awkward association, or just remove something that was motivated by a technology that is no longer relevant.”

    Read more here and watch the interview below

  • Monotype's Ambiguity: a typeface with five “states” of letterforms unleashed

    Charles Nix, designer, typographer and educator for over 20 years at the Parsons School of Design and Chairman Emeritus of the board of the international organization dedicated to furthering typographic excellence, the Type Directors Club, is challenging the font industry through Monotype's latest release after Helvetica New, Ambiguity

    Inspired “by the idea that utopia is within reach if we embrace ambiguity and fluidity as states of perfection” Monotype's type design director is challenging the norms in type design with Ambiguity, a typeface with five “states” of letterforms that aim to provide a diverse palette of fonts for designers and brands “wanting to both challenge and express their typographic voice.” Per Monotype the “multi-voice typeface designed to encourage experimentation, and question our assumptions. As a design, Ambiguity embraces an impressively broad set of voices. It’s radical but also traditional, and conservative without sacrificing quirkiness.”

    To achieve this, Nix divided the design into five different ‘states’, all of which exist on the same spectrum and bear names that speak to their personality - Tradition, Radical, Thrift, Generous and Normate. Nix's “font-palette” is created in the hope of breaking designers out of their comfort zone, and encouraging brands to try on entirely new points of view. 

    “Ambiguity started as a thought experiment,” says Charles Nix, who began turning over ideas for the design in 2016, after listening to Paola Antonelli lecture in Toronto notes Monotype. “She illustrated the point with a collection of works that challenged borders—between design and science, human and machine, technology and nature, and gender,” explains Nix. “The challenge and promise of transforming the world by changing our frame of reference resonated with me. It’s an essential part of the process and products of design” says Nix. 

    Explore Monotype's Ambiguity multi-faceted universe here.

  • Graphic Matters 2019: open call to design a poster for this info-superpowered competition

    “Our world-view is generated by algorithms. Data is ever-present and all around us. More than ever we need people who are openminded and are critical about the information that is presented to them on a silver platter” notes Graphic Matters of its latest Poster Project competition.

    Graphic designers create order out of chaos, give insight into complicated matters and have the power to create an emotional response. They visualize urgent topics so everyone can understand them in the blink of an eye. In the post-digital age the poster is still a powerful tool to communicate important topics. With this Open Call we call upon designers from all over the world to design a poster on a topic they care about!” adds GM. 

    With this year's theme being “Information Superpower!” Graphic Matters gives a chance to aspiring designers to show they care.

    Climate change, plastic soup, fast fashion, fake news, fear mongering, privacy or a personal matter.

 Everything is allowed, as long as you use your ‘information superpower’! Make a poster in the form of a data visualization, infographic, map or user manual. For the first time we also allow moving posters!” note the organizers of the event. 

    The winning posters will be exhibited during Graphic Matters 2019 — the international, biennial festival about graphic design, from 20th September until 27th October, 2019 in Breda, The Netherlands. 

    The winning moving posters will also be displayed during DEMO festival in Amsterdam on 7th November 2019.

    Watch the trailer below and be part of fest of creativity for the world to see, feel and hear your message in a poster! Learn more here -FYI entering the competition is free!


  • NASA's vintage posters are a beauty of type in Space

    In the event of NASA's 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 Typeroom goes into the outer space for some retro type to remember. 

    From the logo for the Apollo 11 missions circa 1969 through numerous posters, manuals, guidebooks and memorabilia of the space program NASA and the Space Mania has provided a plethora of type for the outer limits of humanity's imagination.

    The logo design (via Reddit) appears to be a cleaned-up version of the original as used on the Apollo 11 mission brochure front cover

    The vintage NASA brochures and posters were auctioned off back in 2013 through Heritage Auction's Spring 2013 Space Exploration Signature Auction.

    Read more on Futura's first moon landing and explore more of NASA's celebrations here.


  • Watch Erik van Blokland explain how the Noordzij cube revolutionized typeface design

    On June 17, Erik van Blokland, the Dutch type designer and co-founder of the LettError foundry, gave an enlightening talk about the Noordzij cube and it's implications for how we think about the design space in typeface design.

    “The reprint of The Stroke by Dutch type design theoretician Gerrit Noordzij sparked deeper digging into the origins of his iconic cube. This talk reflects on what this model can mean for type design and education. As a conceptual object, the cube inspired modern interpolation tools and design spaces. A report about curiosity-driven research in type design practice” notes Type@Cooper. 

    Erik van Blokland studied graphic design at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, and picked up the taste for type design in Gerrit Noordzij's class.

    Now his insightful talk is available for all to watch below: 

    The recording of the talk which took place on June 17, 2019 in the Rose Auditorium at The Cooper Union as part of Type@Cooper's Lubalin Lecture Series was made possible by the generous support of Hoefler & Co.