How did you get to where you are at in your career at the moment? What was your first paid gig as a creative person? Could you name three or so defining stations in your career so far?
I think my very first design job was a website I made for a local bookshop in 1997. It was both daunting and exciting – nobody at that point knew what websites were supposed to be, we were basically making it up as we went along. I had started teaching myself web design at an internet cafe where my then-boyfriend worked; I read books about HTML, about basics of design. That was in 1996, certainly a relevant point that initially got me interested in technology, design, and how they meet.
The next defining point was when, after some jobs (and thinking that I should really be doing something more serious and substantial with my life), I started studying multimedia design in 2002 – which in turn led to a new fixation on type and typography.
The most recent big shift happened in 2013, when I closed my design studio in Basel and relocated to The Hague to study in the Type and Media master program. I ended up staying in Holland and have since started with a new studio more fully focused on type design, typography and a bit of coding. I am grateful that I’ve had the chance to make up this path as I go along – 20 years ago I wouldn’t have expected to end up designing type, but now I’m very happy with it.
Which work are you particularly proud of? Which work best represents your style or approach?
In type design, I generally am most convinced of my most recent work, as I can see least flaws in it. Right now I am finalizing my new typeface Nordvest, which started as my graduation typeface at TypeMedia (under the name Mica). It’s a fairly serious text typeface with slightly reversed contrast and a softer italic; I’m, maybe, “proud” of this because it’s both novel in the type landscape, and also a bit of a new direction for me. It’s more complex than the type I drew before TypeMedia; I am originally a bit of a minimalist, a bit of a modernist, I’m bad at adding details that don’t have an obvious and necessary function. I’ve been trying to evolve to a take on design that’s a bit more painterly, less cold. In this project I really pushed myself outside my comfort zone, doing a lot of hand-sketching and writing too, for instance. All that said, though, a number of friends and colleagues have pointed out a recognizable personal style between this and my previous typeface, FF Ernestine. I can’t tell you what that is, though – I’m not sure I see it myself.
The theme of TYPO Berlin 2015 is “Character”. Taking the cue from the famous Vanity Fair/ Proust questionnaire: “What is your most marked chararacteristic / chief character trait?“
Hard question. I think I’m pretty serious, about most things. I’d rather be smart than pretty. I’m also more introverted than people seem to think. People who meet me at TYPO or other conferences often see me as a talkative partynoodle, but that’s because I spend the largest part of my year cooped up alone working, so by the time a conference rolls around I’m really ready for some communication!
Required reading/watching: What are currently your favorite interesting/beautiful publications, exhibitions, books, movies and/or websites?
I tend to be inspired more by substance/content/thinking than by style, so I prefer reading more non-design, thought-inspiring things instead of looking at flashy design publications.
Next on my reading list is “Lists of Note” by Shaun Usher – an eclectic and beautiful treasure trove of lists – but I’m also reading Murakami, Borges, and a Japanese guide to effectively decluttering your house (I wish). My favorite online reading at the time are the tinyletter mailing lists of Deb Chachra (Metafoundry) and Matthew Ogle (Pome) that inject little portions of fascinating thought and unexpected poetry into my days. In case you’re now wondering how I keep updated with what’s happening in design: Twitter, baby!