More than an itching notion: Six times heavy »Trigger«

Thinking along our motto at TYPO 2018 we were looking for triggers. But what exactly is a trigger? It could be a moment or event that takes us forward, a feeling that activates us to do things, an impulse to start or simply just the fact that we need to survive. What role does the trigger play for our creativity, for movement and change? And what moves all the creatives on the stages forward to realize their projects? We collected insights from a selection of our speakers. // Read article in German.
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by Catharina Dörr and Maciej Nadobnik

Charles Landry


Charles Landry: World on a move

Modern cities are dynamic, impetuous environments. People, objects and ideas are in constant flux, as the pace of life increases relentlessly. Moreover, with the advent of virtual reality, a whole new layer will be incorporated into the hectic urban lifestyle and it is going to shape it in ways invisible to the naked eye. It is quite a challenge to wrap one’s head around the intricacies of augmented and ever shifting-reality. But Charles Landry doesn’t sound overwhelmed, far from it. He looks at the future optimistically, with genuine enthusiasm. He keeps his eyes peeled and picks out the fine details of city tissue which lead to arguable but valuable conclusions. “We need a shift from a No because to a Yes if attitude”, he says. He is ever upset with bureaucracy and ever inspired by real, notable improvements coming from the very grassroots initiatives. Where there’s a will there’s a way — simple.

⇢ Charles Landry: The Civic City in the Nomadic World (video: 43 min)


Briar Levit: Exploration and commitments

What triggers a designer to step out of the usual line of work? As Briar Levit describes it, an itch for exploring the unknown appears every now and then amidst the staleness of repeatable tasks. Self-publishing zines, designing walking maps and eventually movie direction – these are the creative means she discovered by simply following her curiosity. For the making of Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production, she became a movie director and a producer. In this new venture of her, unforeseen challenges emerged: Briar encountered management, budgeting, and technical issues. As she recalls, it wasn’t just her passion driving her forward. It was also a strong sense of commitment, as she knew there were funding supporters whom she just couldn’t let down. And she never did.

⇢ Briar Levit: Designer as Filmmaker (video: 43 min)




dina Amin: Tinkering with love

dina (she dislikes capital Ds) is neither a product nor an animation designer – She is taking products apart. And why? Because she loves it. After she finished her studies in product design she was trying to explore some jobs and finally quit. So she began the search to find her thing. Something that she likes to do, that solves problems and pays her bills. Difficult. Triggered by the anger over the fact, that all the products that designers produce are finally ending as trash, she collected thrown away objects and started her own thing. With all the separated pieces of these objects she creates crazy characters and tells little lovable stories as stop motion movies. The disassembled things sometimes never get back to their original shape, but every time communicate something new. Motivated from platforms online, she presents all her creative ideas worldwide because „its all about human interaction“, she says.

⇢ dina Amin: A Tinker Story (video: 49 min)


Frank Rausch: Just a line of code

As well as other speakers Frank Rausch has his own, we can say, emotional trigger. He is annoyed. Annoyed about the bad typography in the the apps we use every day. The excuse for that seems to be the technical difficulties with the devices, the designers need to finish their analogue work with. For him it’s not an excuse. The digital world – including the programming – comes with tools you do need to learn. Because the better you know and control the technical tools the wider you can think and develop apps with good-looking typography. The time the designers said its too difficult, is over. He shows why. With ease he presents one line of code for each problem: bad line spacing, horrible ragged margin and other tiny mistakes that change the whole image of the interface. His anger brings him to his pretty precise view on micro typographical work and to the improvement of the daily reading experience on digital gadgets.

⇢ Frank Rausch: Die neue Typographie (video: 49 min)

writeordraw 1

Sonja Knecht: The beauty of words

Sonja Knecht is texter – Or to be more precise she is a person who creates „verbal identities“ for designers and companies who are looking for the right words. Fascinated or upset by examples on the streets, on ads or simply things she found online, she is attracted to reflect their importance and to change if necessary. For her, text is everywhere and something we need to care about, because it’s not just a combination of letters. Text is a witness of a time period, it tells stories and communicates information, emotion and finally creates pictures in our heads. Texting is designing with words and her creativity is definitely triggered by text… „Text, sex, shit!“. As well as from the sharp, loud letters t, s and x she is provoked by the meanings of the words and the context they occur. With a great sense that everyones connection with words and their particular pictures can be different she goes through all the variable options a sentence can be built. With passion she juggles with text and shows the diversity to express a content, how a rhythm can arise and that omitting is texting as well as creating. She wants to empower people to write, because „Words are our best friends. Letters are.“ and we need to decide what we want to do with it.

⇢ Sonja Knecht: Text – Sex – Scheiße (video: 49 min)


Toshi Omagari: Retro constraints!

At times, a creative spark can be ignited by encountering limitations. Back in the day of arcade games, when anonymous non-typographers would draw fonts pixel by pixel on a 8 by 8 unit grid, this was certainly true. Monotype’s type designer and avid gaming afficionado Toshi Omagari guides us into this realm of lush and completely untamed inventiveness. His selection of hundreds of typefaces features some of the craziest things ever seen in type. There are specimens so utterly bizarre, one could argue just plain ugly, while some others seem rather modest and well-balanced.

Toshi keenly points out clever ways the designers have found to embody their ideas and still match the tight specifications. Although limitations of the old days have long been deprecated, they have shaped visual heritage which comes with no expiration date. The way it can inspire is twofold. On the conceptual level, there are ways of thinking to be learned by examining the design decisions. On the visual level, the unique look of each individual font or even just a single glyph begs to be sampled or remixed in a brand new creation.

⇢ Toshi Omagari: Video to be released soon.


More than an itching notion

During this year’s TYPO we learned about all kinds of creative triggers. A simple need for a change could work as well as the itching notion of others waiting to see your work. Besides the different forms of such ignition, speakers repeatedly emphasized how it is often a very subtle, almost unnoticed impulse. You probably have no idea what’s your next inspiring moment, but that’s fine. It happens when you least expect it!


Illustrations: Maciej Nadobnik



Charles Landry

Advisor, speaker, author (UK)

Charles Landry works with cities around the world to help them make the most of their potential. He is widely acclaimed as a speaker, author, innovator and he facilitates complex urban change projects. An international authority on using imagination in creating self-sustaining urban change Charles has advised cities or given talks in over 60 countries. He helps shift how we harness possibilities and resources in reinventing our cities and his Creative City concept has become a global movement. His book The Art of City Making was recently voted the 2nd best book on cities ever written by the planning website. His most recent book is The Civic City in a Nomadic World. Other books cover the measurement of urban creativity, the digitized city, urban fragility and risk, the sensory experience cities and interculturalism.

Briar Levit

Designer & Filmmaker (Portland, Oregon)

Briar Levit is an Assistant Professor at Portland State University, and graduate of Central St. Martins College of Art & Design. Originally from the California Bay Area, her graphic design practice consists primarily of page design, with a special interest in independent magazine publishing, small presses, and walking guides (which she has self published). Most recently, she completed her biggest project to-date—directing and producing the feature-length film, Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production.
Dina Amin

dina Amin

Designer (Cairo, Egypt)

dina Amin is a designer from Cairo, Egypt. She completed her B.A. (Hons) in Industrial Design in Malaysia. Although trained as a Product Designer, dina loves to explore the intersections between various disciplines. In 2016, dina started a side project called ‘Tinker Friday’ on Instagram, where she combined her passion for product design and stop motion with her views on consumerism.

Frank Rausch

User Interface Designer, App Developer, and Typographer (Germany)

Frank Rausch is a user interface designer, app developer, and typographer. He is co-founder and managing partner at Raureif, an award-winning interaction design consultancy based in Berlin. In his work, Frank Rausch explores how technology and code can shape high-quality digital reading experiences. He teaches app design and typography at design schools in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.

Sonja Knecht

Writer (Berlin)

Sonja Knecht was born in Indonesia, grew up in Venezuela and is deep-rooted in Deutsch. She studied English, Spanish and humanities; explorations as a graphic artist led her to typography and to what she loves most: text. Text as language, designed. Sonja was Erik Spiekermann’s Director Text (2008–2015 at his corporate design agency in Berlin) and built up the 30-people editorial team for TYPO Talks (from 2011). As an expert in corporate text and brand language, she works with clients such as the Bauhaus Archive/Museum for Design, Bosch, Deutsche Bank, DHL, Messe Frankfurt, Oxfam. Sonja gives text and editorial workshops and teaches at Berlin University of the Arts as well as at Burg Giebichenstein University of Arts and Design Halle.

Toshi Omagari

Toshi Omagari is an Advanced Typeface Designer at Monotype, based in London, UK. He studied typography and typeface design at Musashino Art University in Tokyo where he graduated in 2008, and went on to join MA in typeface design at University of Reading in 2011. Since he joined Monotype, he has released typefaces such as Metro Nova and Neue Haas Unica, while also working on custom typefaces for clients such as H&M and Sir Quentin Blake. He has also been involved in many aspects of multilingual typography and font development, including typefaces on various scripts including Greek, Cyrillic, Mongolian, and Tibetan. His typefaces were awarded the Type Directors Club in New York in 2013 (with Metro Nova), Modern Cyrillic in 2014 (with Marco Cyrillic), and European Design Award in 2016 (bronze, with Cowhand).