Non-Latin scripts: from metal to digital type

Available from the St Bride shop, Non-Latin scripts: from metal to digital type reproduces previously unpublished items for the Department’s Non-Latin Type Collection. Collection curator Fiona Rosscontributes a major essay on the type design process for non-Latin scripts and describes the exhibits, Graham Shaw discusses the relationship between these scripts and print technology, and John D. Berry’s afterword discusses the need for global resources in typography. An introduction by Paul Luna draws attention to the research possibilities of the Reading collection.

The publication records the ground-breaking exhibition this autumn at ATypI Hong Kong, hosted at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Library, which displayed over 150 items from the collection, many of which are illustrated in the book. Exhibition co-curators Ross and Vaibhav Singh selected documents and artefacts to tell the story of type production across technologies in Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, Devanagari, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu, and Thai. A supporting display of newspapers in these scripts showed many of the fonts in use.

The 3-week long exhibition was launched by a keynote presentation by Paul Luna, who discussed the research possibilities of the Reading collection and laid stress on the need for the more immaterial evidence of contemporary font production to be preserved in the same way as physical evidence from the past, the survival of which helps us understand the processes involved and provides an evidence base for current font design. With an audience drawn from China and the East Asia region, India, Europe and the Americas, this was global exposure for one of Reading’s key research collections, with appreciation being expressed both at the conference and subsequently on social media.

For more images from the book and the exhibition, follow this link.

Supporting design studies in the EBacc

Include design

We are the first institution, with Goldsmiths, to support the campaign to include design in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), a proposed new qualification. Currently, the EBacc will require pupils to achieve a certificate in five subject areas: maths, English, sciences, languages (ancient and modern) and humanities (defined as only history or geography). This formulation has been widely criticised for its exclusion of creative subjects, and sparked a widely supported campaign to include design in the core subjects of the qualification. The list of organisations and companies backing the campaign reads like a roster of design excellence, across the sector.

The case for design’s contribution to the economy was recently made by the Design Commission’s Restarting Britain: Design Education and Growth report, supported by the Design Council and other organisations. Its text makes a strong case for the contribution of the creative sector to the UK economy in terms of GDP, employment, and innovation. In particular, it highlights design’s role in inter-disciplinary skills that are essential for innovation and enterprise. Design is an enabling sector, without which many seemingly unrelated industries cannot function effectively: for example, advances in science rely on design for their commercial application, and successful differentiation. For Typography’s point of view, this is especially pertinent in a global market where using textual and visual information in meaningful ways is increasingly the product itself, separate from any rendering environments.

You can add your support to the campaign here.


Design Issues: visual essays

Sue Walker joins Design Issues as Associate Editor, Archives to develop visual essays that derive from high quality collections and archives of design-related materials worldwide.

Design Issues, the first American academic journal to examine design history, theory, and criticism, provokes enquiry into the cultural and intellectual issues surrounding design. It is one of the world’s foremost research journals and a flagship product of MIT Press.

 Call for contributions

We are looking for visual essays that explain an important and interesting ‘design issue’, from any period, through images from a collection or archive. This might be

  • a set of related images that explains something, or tells a story, of cultural or social importance
  • a set of seemingly unrelated images that, when accompanied by verbal explanation, become linked together to tell something new
  • a series of single images that each represent a significant cultural or social issue

Each essay will be six black-and-white pages designed by MA Book Design students at the University of Reading, under the supervision of the Programme Director, Ruth Blacksell. The published material will have to be accompanied by copyright clearance on all the visual material.

Send proposals, or ideas for discussion, to:

Prof Sue Walker
Department of Typography & Graphic Communication
University of Reading
Reading RG6 2AU