Typography’s excellence wins Queen’s Anniversary Prize

We are very proud that the Department has won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the University of Reading. Our submission, ‘Design for reading: teaching and research in typography and graphic communication’, was awarded a 2010–12 Prize in recognition of the excellence and world-wide reputation of our research and teaching and learning. The Design & Print Studio’s unique work with students was also part of our submission. Your can read more about the Prize here, and download our press release and information about our research, enterprise, teaching and learning, and collections (warning – large file!).

The photograph show members of the Department and the Design & Print Studio with Acting Vice-Chancellor Tony Downes.

Wednesday seminar: Will Holder

Typographer Will Holder once read that oral tradition would lead us out of the post-modern condition and has since become preoccupied with ‘publishing’. More often than not, the publications do not take the form of ink and paper, and a large part of the preoccupation is spent in finding suitable ‘forms’ for transmission. He sees conversation as a tool and a model for a mutual and improvised set of production conditions, where design is a responsive moment rather than a desired end. This approach has resulted in working relationships and continued conversations whereby the usual roles of commissioner, author, subject, editor, and designer are improvised and shared, as opposed to assigned and pre-determined.

Will Holder is editor of F.R.DAVID, a journal concerned with reading and writing in the arts, published by de Appel, Amsterdam. In May 2009, he curated ‘Talk Show’ (with Richard Birkett) at the ICA, London — an exhibition and season of events concerning speech and accountability. Holder is currently editing and designing a biography of American composer Robert Ashley in the form of operatic notation (together with Alex Waterman), and rewriting William Morris’s News from Nowhere: An epoch of rest (1876) into a guide for design education and practice set in 2135.

Wednesday 30 November 2011
Nike theatre, Agriculture | 2–2.50 pm

External links: Will Holder at the ICA; at Frieze magazine

Art/Typography talks …

… is a cross-Departmental programme of speakers whose research &/or practice engages with the intersections between Art and Typographic design. The programme was started in 2010 with a talk by Stuart Bailey of Dexter Sinister and will continue this year with talks by Will Holder (autumn term 2011); Sara De Bondt & Antony Hudek of Occasional Papers (spring term 2012); and Rathna Ramanathan (spring term 2012). The talks are open to all students from the Department of Art and the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication.

(Image: Past Imperfect, 2005, compiled & edited by Bik Van der Pol and Lisette Smits. Design: Will Holder)

Wednesday seminar: Elisa del Galdo

Elisa del Galdo will give a talk, ‘International User Experience: Designing Outside Your Borders’, on Wednesday, 24 November.

A specialist in user-centred design, Elisa has published widely on Internationalisation of products and systems (Designing User Interfaces for International Use, edited by J. Nielsen, and International User Interfaces, edited by E.M. del Galdo and J. Nielsen).  She is the co-founder and past President of Products and Systems Internationalisation Inc., the organizers of the International Workshop on the Internationalisation of Products and Systems.

The talk, open to all, will be at 4.30 in Typography, E1.

Paul Gehl on the calligraphic tradition in Chicago design, 1900–1950

Raymond Daboll lettering

The Department welcomed Paul Gehl to its Wednesday afternoon series of guest lectures. Paul, who is Custodian of John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing at The Newberry Library, Chicago, spoke about the calligraphic tradition in Chicago design between 1900 and 1950. He drew our attention to the liberal attitude many Chicago designers had toward calligraphy that enabled them to draw freely on its traditions to arrive at new inventions. The results found wide application in advertising design and gave Chicago work a distinctive regional (some would say provincial) flavour. This later stood in contrast to design in Chicago that was influenced by European modernism, an influence that gained in strength from 1937 when the New Bauhaus was founded in the city. The uneasy relationship between these approaches came to typify Chicago design and was one of Paul’s themes. He also spoke in detail about Raymond DaBoll, a calligraphic designer Paul felt merited new appreciation. DaBoll’s work offers a vibrant counterpart to the lettering and calligraphy of his more famous colleague, Oz Cooper.

Throughout his talk Paul remarked on the rich resources available at The Newberry for scholars working in the fields of printing, lettering, typography and the books arts. You can hear Paul speaking on a related calligraphy topic here.

[Images: book jacket by Raymond DaBoll (above), magazine advertisement by Elmer Jacobs (below); images courtesy of The Newberry Library.]

Elmer Jacobs lettering

Wednesday seminar: Rob McKaughan

Rob McKaughan is one of those people who can be trusted to come up with an interesting angle on things. Coming to the MATD from software engineering, he researched pattern languages (a methodology created by Christopher Alexander for architecture, which has spread to software and interaction design, amongst other fields) and their application to typeface design. Here’s a good explanation of pattern languages, from Rob’s introduction to his dissertation:

Each pattern in a pattern language is a rule of thumb abstracted from existing proven designs. More specifically, a pattern is a description of a problem and its solution in a particular context. These patterns are not recipes; they balance concrete physical descriptions while abstracting the pattern’s concepts for use in other designs. The patterns focus on the characteristics of the product, and not the process used by the designer.

Rob outlined the generation of pattern languages, and gave an illustration of how patterns can be used for typeface design (for his dissertation Rob focused on newspaper typefaces, with interesting observations on small size / low resolution text typefaces in general).

The lively discussion (including my immodest observation that some design courses follow a very similar approach to teaching, bar the nomenclature) touched on exciting topics, not least the relationship of pattern languages to innovation in design – much on the forefront of MA students at the beginning of their year…

Overlayed letters from newspaper typefaces

Overlayed letters from newspaper typefaces