Letterpress: possibilities & practice

An exhibition in the Department
Until 28 April 2018

Letterpress printing has never lacked dedicated practitioners since its decline as a mainstream commercial printing process. But its conspicuous use in recent years – in the UK, Germany, Italy, USA, Brazil and many other places – is evidence of a resurgent interest in letterpress as an engine for research, design and making. Driving this interest is in part a renewed valuation of the materiality of print as a counterweight to the disembodied digital form of much present-day typography and graphic communication.

Recent letterpress practices are renovating and expanding the process. This exhibition presents some of these practices, alongside complementary examples from the 1980s and 90s. They involve the exploration of print effects, the visual formation of language, the reconstruction or reinvention of historical technique, the reconfiguration of letterpress in ‘post-digital’ form, and more. Taken together, the work on display suggests that letterpress printing continues to offer many possibilities for scholarly, speculative and commercial endeavour.

Practices on display:

  • Reconstruction of historical typography: Gutenberg, Fust & Schoeffer
    (Martin Andrews, Alan May)
  • Impressions of historical types: Louis John Pouchée
    (Ian Mortimer, James Mosley)
  • Re-invention of historical technique: compound-plate printing
    (Pierre Pané-Farré)
  • Independent workshop practice
    (Alan Kitching / The Typography Workshop, London; p98a, Berlin)
  • Independent book production
    (Juliet Shen, Bram de Does, Giulia Garbin and Stefano Riba)
  • Post-digital printing
    (p98a, Berlin; Suhrkamp Letterpress)
  • Structure in type and language
    (Phil Baines)
  • Variation in series
    (Eric Kindel)
  • Colour overprinting, split-fount printing
    (Charan Aruja, Katy Mawhood, Susann Vatnedal)

Thanks to those individuals who have kindly loaned items for exhibition: Simon Esterson, Gerry Leonidas, Pierre Pané-Farré, Erik Spiekermann, Ferdinand Ulrich, Susann Vatnedal.

Display and texts by Eric Kindel.

Beyond awareness: inclusive design for Graphic Communication

This week, Part 2 Graphic Communication students completed the inclusive design component of their integrated design modules. Building on the series of workshops (see BdB blog) we did earlier in the term and relevant readings, on Monday, students presented seminar papers to their peers on particular aspects of inclusive design.


Group photo inclusive design

On Monday, our Graphic Communication students presented inclusive design seminars to their peers (from left to right): Jordan Bellinger, Lewis Burfield, Maciej Bykowski, Fenella Astley, Rajvir Bhogal, Stephanie Boateng, Cherise Booker, June Lin and (front) Jordan Cairns.


Students discussed and debated, aspects such as:

  • The principles of inclusive design and how designers can make these achievable in real life projects
  • How design briefs often tend to create segregation and how designers can develop more inclusive solutions to briefs
  • The clear print debate – what the guidelines are, who they are for and how implementing these can differ for professional designers and everyday communicators
  • The challenges and key considerations of inclusive design for screen – including the use of colour, images, sound and navigation
  • Key debates and typographic research for inclusive design for children’s reading, focusing on readers who may have dyslexia or visual impairments
  • Inclusive wayfinding – including challenges and innovative proposals for solutions in contemporary design practice.

Students commented that the inclusive design workshops, readings and seminars they have done have helped them become “more consciously aware” of how important it is to consider inclusive design in their own work and how designers may have to take responsibility for designing inclusively for a range of users. The highlighted how it is important to realise that the people they are designing for are probably “not the same as you (the designer)” and that inclusive design is “not just being aware” but about embedding inclusive practices in our industry. They also noted that these seminars had made them aware that there is “not enough research” about inclusive design within our discipline.