A very special ATypI

Jan Tschichold's corrections

As students were settling into their Halls for Welcome Week and the start of the new academic year, Sunday marked the return of several members of the Typography family from the annual ATypI conference, a highlight in the calendar of international type professionals. Held in Barcelona’s impressive new Museu del Diseny by MBM Arquitectes the conference was especially significant for Typography: to celebrate the award of the Sir Mischa Black Medal to Michael Twyman, the Association invited him to deliver the Keynote lecture on the topic of  “Typography as a university study”. (The image above, of visuals marked up by Tschichold for a facsimile edition of Vespasiano’s 1572 writing manual, is from Michael’s collections – and seen by postgraduates who join his seminars.)

Forty years after the foundation of the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication (and a few more since the inception of the original course, in the late 1960s), Michael’s integration of history, theory and practice continues to define typographic education. These ideas have proven not only resilient, but prescient: graphic communication education worldwide is moving towards these ideas, holding Reading as a model for both new courses and institutions realigning their design studies.

Fiona Ross and Michael Twyman

(Above: Fiona Ross and Michael Twyman in Barcelona. Photos by Elena Veguillas)

Reading’s presence at the conference was notable. Eric Kindel and Gerard Unger delivered presentations, as did no less than ten MATD alumni, with two more taking part in panel sessions (Azza Alameddine, Nathalie Dumont, Paul Hunt, William Montrose, Toshi Omagari, Michele Patane, Dan Reynolds, Dan Rhatigan, Alice Savoie, Liron Lavi Turkenich; and Veronika Burian and Nadine Chahine respectively). Fiona Ross co-curated (with the regrettably absent Vaibhav Singh) the exhibition “Making news: type technologies in transition in newspapers across the world”. The selection of items from the Department’s Collections & Archives are a source of fascination and discussion by type designers, and reflect the growth of interest in global scripts.

Making News exhibition

Borna Izadpanah and Behdad Esfahbod reviewing the Urdu section of the exhibition.

ATypI president (and Reading alumnus) José Scaglione’s announcement that ATypI 2015 will take place in São Paulo, the first South American location for the Association, which will bring the conference closer to the substantial community of Brazilian alumni.

More from Buenos Aires

Here’s the team of jurors from the Letter.2 event: (from left) Rubén Fontana, visiting graphic designer Miguel Catopodis, Gerry Leonidas, Patricio Gatti (in whose workshop the judging took place), Fiona Ross, John Hudson, Lucie Lacava, Peter Bil’ak, Akira Kobayashi, and chairman José Scaglione. For a video of Gerry in action, see here.

Morning session at the UBA

Poster for GL, FR visit to the UBA

After a full two days of judging the Letter 2 competition, three of the judges spent the morning at the University of Buenos-Aires, the most prestigious institution in the country. We attended a presentation by recent graduates of the typeface design postgraduate course (which runs twice a week over eighteen months) and had the opportunity to address the students and staff of the course. We saw some excellent work – truly impressive, especially considering that this was the first cohort to graduate.

The UBA is a massive institution, operating very differently from UK universities: tuition is free, and admissions are in practice controlled by the limits to class sizes imposed at the level of the module (which is a larger unit that the UK module – something closer to a semester’s work). Professors employ a system of paid and voluntary assistants to manage the large group sizes, and most teachers are part-time. As during a previous visit to Argentina, both students and staff made us feel extremely appreciated for our contribution.

Henrique Nardi was busy snapping away, and posted some good images of the session on Flickr. Ruben Fontana, Pablo Cosgaya, Catherine Dixon, Marina Chaccur, and our alumnus José Scaglione (and local organiser of Letter 2), amongst others, are there.

Here come the judge(s)

Fiona Ross and Gerry Leonidas are busy in Buenos Aires right now judging the entries in letter.2, ATypI’s typeface design competition. And the chair of the jury is Reading alumnus José Scaglione of Type Together. The letter.2 conference follows on Tuesday 4 October, and Fiona and Gerry will talk about their research-based approach to typeface design, and how archive material in the Non-Latin Type Collection at Reading informs contemporary design decisions. Alejandro Lo Celso of PampaType, another Reading alumnus, will talk on type and cultural identity.

Letters to Iceland

World scripts exhibition at ATypI 2011

From a report about the ATypI Reykjavík conference

‘This year’s conference programme included talks on – at the very least – Arabic, Devanagari, Khmer, Korean, Latin, Meeti Mayek, Mongolian, and Tamil scripts. Aside from the annual TDC and TDC² exhibitions that have long been part of the ATypI conferences, this year saw the first World Scripts Exhibition from the collections of the Typography and Graphic Communication department of the University of Reading. Fiona Ross and Alice Savoie curated this fascinating glimpse into the resources available to students and researchers at Reading; many of the items included traveled outside of the archives for the first time in order to be part of this exhibition.’