Third time is a charm: Peter Biľak on the return of Fontstand International Typography Conference
“Typography doesn’t just make speech visible; it is also a mirror of society, and a reflection of our culture” notes Fontstand’s team in the introduction to its upcoming third International Typography Conference coming to The Hague this September.
“As the world becomes increasingly diverse, type and typography engage in a cultural dialogue. The Fontstand conference will be hosting a series of presentations and speakers that have a visible impact on the world around us” reads the intro to an event that boasts a great line-up of speakers for the Typophile community.
From Erik van Blokland (Letterror), head of TypeMedia at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (KABK) and a part-time Gerrit Noordzij historian through the Amsterdam-based graphic designer Irma Boom, Ek Type’s Noopur Datye, Dinamo’s Elias Hanzer, Fontef’s Yanek Iontef or Typofonderie’s Jean-François Porchez aka one of the pioneers of digital typography and Pascal Zoghbi whose 29Letters Type Foundry embraces a truly global multiscript approach, the typographic conference in the city of The Hague -home to more than a hundred ethnic groups, with half its population being of non-Dutch heritage- aims to provide numerous insights on where the type design industry is heading.
We caught up with Peter Biľak, the multidisciplinary designer based in the Netherlands, founder of Typotheque, and co-founder of Fontstand on the upcoming event.
Typeroom: What inspired you to launch Fontstand’s Typography conference in the first place?
Peter Biľak: Fontstand is a company that looked at how to make using font easier, we want to engage new audiences, and as part of a plan meeting people and having a chance to speak about how deep work is crucial.
We had hoped to create a series of smaller events where there’s an easy conversation between presenters and those in the audience, with inspiring presentations, but more importantly with plenty of space in between to exchange thoughts and ideas.
TR: What would you consider Fontstand Typography Conference’s achievements to date?
PB: I suppose the biggest achievement is the fact that we can organize this without any external funding and quite literally without any outside sponsors, so it is purely about people coming together and exchanging thoughts on their common interest, typography.
TR: Now in its third round, which are the post-covid challenges, you aim to address regarding the type design industry via the conference and its line of speakers?
PB: We were forced to cancel an event planned for 2021 and postponed the event planned earlier this year so we sincerely hope that this third time will be a charm.
People seem to be impatient to let go of the computer screens and meet in person again. There are plenty of virtual conferences and interesting material online, but nothing replaces a real dialogue.
TR: Non-Latin scripts seem to gain momentum lately. How crucial is that for a hopefully more diverse state of the industry?
TR: In this year's conference non-Latin-type designers take center stage as diversity is one of our objectives and priorities. This September in The Hague we have invited type designers from across the globe, creators that work with the Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, or the scripts of India -a diverse typographic team that also match what we do offer on the Fontstand platform. The world is far larger than the English-speaking universe, and while we all speak English most people around the world use languages other than English. I believe it is our responsibility to present this cultural diversity in the program of the conference, and also in the Fontstand’s offerings.
TR: What is the state of the independent foundries today? What’s at stake?
PB: This is an unprecedented time for indie-type foundries. In the old days, people would usually use typefaces of people who passed away a long time ago. Today fonts designed by young creatives are used daily, and people are interested in the forms and the authors who create them. There is a larger offering of type designs therefore it's of great importance to create tools that allow finding the right ones, and to establish platforms that allow discussions around them so we can appreciate the exceptional ones.
TR: Who the conference is aimed at?
PB: Everyone who can appreciate the visual expression of language is welcome.
TR: Why Hague?
PB: Our company is based in The Hague, a place which attracts a lot of designers because of its exceptional educational institutes and industry. A small city that truly appreciates the power of type so the choice was pretty obvious.
For more enter here.