Every year there is a new theme for the conference. According to which criteria or trend do you choose the topics, and of course the appropriate speakers?
The theme for TYPO is selected by our team about 10 months before the event. We get together around the conference table and throw around a bunch of buzzwords. Next, we make a negative selection and then a shortlist. In the end, the concept that stimulates our imagination the most and piques our curiosity wins.
The concept has little to do with the selection of speakers. It merely provides the speakers with a perspective, a kind of spectacle, through which they see their favorite topic with different eyes and get an unexpected impetus for a TYPO talk.
How did the concept “Trigger” come about?
Sometimes we think very analytically, sometimes technically. And then there is the word “trigger” … in the sense of controlling or synchronizing. This put the term into our top five. When we looked at the words through the eyes of experienced typographers, we thought after a short while: The T, a small i, two small g’s … those could form a fine logo. And indeed, four weeks later, our agency ad-hoc arrived at the presentation with a suitcase full of mirrored letters and rotating glyphs. Win!
The lectures and speakers are diverse and come from the German, as well as the international design scene. Is it hard to find a good balance of varied speakers?
Let’s put it this way: It’s exhausting and takes time—but it’s not impossible. And over the years, we have always taken our time in selecting speakers. I think this year there is a really great mix.
What innovation in typeface design has surprised or influenced you in recent years?
Without a doubt the new font format OpenType 1.8, also known as Variable Font. There’s not much to see yet, because the technology was only released about 18 months ago, but behind the scenes, more developments are taking place. We know this because we’ve been running the font technology conference, TYPO Labs, in Berlin for about 2 years now, about 6 weeks before TYPO.
This year’s final update: The new font format is so flexible and powerful that it will meet all digital challenges, be it AR/VR, automotive, web or sensor-based typography on mobile devices. As I said, there is nothing to see just yet, but we will be able to use some of this soon. At TYPO, for example, a first variable demo font will be put on the internet,FF Meta Variable. You can download them here and test them here: https://codepen.io/jpamental/pen/MGEPEL
The premiere of Brand Talks last year showed that the topic of branding and brands is more prominent than ever before. What does that mean?
Last year we introduced the Brand Talks for the first time, in the smaller hall of the venue, as we were not sure how the returning TYPO visitors would react to this new programme. Generally, TYPO has always been about the beautiful products in the design world: books, posters, newspapers, magazines—and very often, cultural projects.
But we also all know that a design studio cannot survive on the beautiful things alone. At publishers, museums, theaters, and festivals, the degrees of freedom for creating are endless—but rarely are the budgets. As our visitors want to be able to live from their work, for the first time, last year, we put a lot of emphasis on an area that values and honors good design—marketing. This was very well received not only by the visitors but also by potential speakers. For this reason alone are we able offer such a first-class line-up this year, with top agencies and world-famous brands.
How can the first-time TYPO visitor enjoy the conference most effectively—and like someone who has been before?
First-time visitors should use our colour code in the program: blue for branding, yellow for inspiration, green for know-how and red for typography. Returning visitors should simply follow their instincts.
What are the big highlights in the programme for you this year, and what is would you suggest as an insider tip?
The insider tip first: The Talent Talks—a whole new track. Here, for the first time, we’re bringing a group of young, international design studios to the stage, whose fresh and visionary ideas are not created in a quiet little room, but in coworking spaces, at hackathons, barcamps or via digital collaboration. They’re leading by example and we’re giving them the stage they deserve. Talent Talks was designed by Californian design professor Kali Nikitas. She is curator and moderator of the four-hour event. Kali is the director of the MFA Graphic Design Programme at Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles.
Which is your favourite font—professional and private?
Professionally, I don’t have much choice in the matter: Mails in Calibri, Code in Consolas and Monotype print materials in our typeface Kootenay. For private printing, I use FF Real by Erik Spiekermann. I write invoices and manuscripts with the new FF Attributes, by Victor Nübel. Incidentally, I set my moderation cards in FF Parable—actually a font for fine print, designed by Christopher Burke. On my cue cards (A5 landscape) I use them across two columns, in 13 point—that’s about twice as big as usual, which works wonderfully on stage and with a long arm.