What's the future of type design?

Moseph's picture

Looking at the history of type and the role that process-based limitations have played in its design, what will be the future of type design as we approach the age when retina-level displays are the norm? Limitations on the design of type will be almost completely eliminated. Without these constraints, there is only a blank canvas. What do you see as the future of type?

charles ellertson's picture

Well, lessee here.

Technology is solving so many manufacturing issues the demand for paid labor is dropping, globally.

Infant mortality rates are dropping, but the birthrate remains essentially constant.

Education is just one more commodity; it's cost is through the roof.

In short, there are going to be a lot of people with no income, no useful skills, and not much hope of acquiring either. They will be hungry. And mad.

So, I'd say type design, along with most everything else, will be trampled under the feet of warring soldiers.

That do for you?

hrant's picture

The future is for solving problems, and the main problem in type has been the same since day one: getting type to finally move out of the house of his parents, calligraphy and lettering. I mean really, he's in his 40s now.

I think resolution crossing a threshold is relevant technically, but not in the above.


Nick Shinn's picture

Ironically, the biggest limitation of screen typography is that it is scalable. Increased resolution will, I think, create a new technological monster to replace hinting -- the problem of how to adjust the appearance of typography according to absolute type size. We will have to go back to designing multi-size-specific fonts, or parametric fonts. Either way, that is a daunting constraint.

Nick Shinn's picture

How cool would it be if the type size on your device changed according to how far away it was from your eyes? A constant optimum equation of x-height to arc of view.

hrant's picture

We will have to go back to designing multi-size-specific fonts

Ah, very good point!
I much prefer that challenge to hinting though.

BTW Samsung has been doing a lot of "gaze-aware" stuff.


brianskywalker's picture

> I much prefer that challenge [size-specific cuts] to hinting though.

I agree with you on that one.

phrostbyte64's picture

Wow, Charles, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I see me in the future of type design.

Té Rowan's picture

I see a whole lot of hard rock hallelujah going on.

Moseph's picture

Nick, very interesting point, I never thought of high-res as a constraint. Thank you!

JamesM's picture

We'll probably see script fonts gradually disappearing, since the ability to read cursive seems to be on the way out.

From a recent New York Times article: "Cursive should be allowed to die. In fact, it's already dying, despite having been taught for decades," said Morgan Polikoff, assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education. "Very small proportions of adults use cursive for their day-to-day writing...As we have done with the abacus and the slide rule, it is time to retire the teaching of cursive," Polikoff said.

The recently established Common Core State Standards, the standardized educational benchmarks for U.S. public schools, omit cursive as a requirement. Some states, including Indiana and Hawaii, have dropped cursive from their curricula.

hrant's picture

Couldn't come too soon!


Moseph's picture

I'd love to see cursive die and, though it's unlikely to happen, I'd love to see Italics replace it. My grandfather wrote in italics and its simplicity always impressed me (particularly the letters; m,n,r,s). I remember wishing they'd taught this to me in school in place of cursive.


JamesM's picture

I hate to see it go, but it's probably going to happen. It's unfortunate that many historic documents (and even old family letters and journals) written in cursive will be unreadable to most folks.

laasr's picture

Not sure if script typography will survive but script lettering sure as hell will. If anything script lettering has soared the last 2 years I've seen, scores and scores of people like hand lettering/vectored versions for logos and such, hell I even get a ton of lettering projects (mostly script, cursive). Even Calligraphy is coming back in full force. More often than not the people I see who dislike script/calligraphy are the ones who can't actually draw and prefer a ruler/guides for everything and without measuring tools they'd be lost. Just my $0.02

stevejack's picture

I don't know what is the future of type design. Technology will solve this problem..
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Nick Shinn's picture

Cursive is a good way to write, because it is faster than “printing” discrete letters.
Speed is important, because it allows the writer to capture thoughts before they dissipate.
Typing is of course faster, but if one is going to use a pen, then cursive is the way to go.
It is also a more joyful and expressive act—dancing and flowing rather than marching.

hrant's picture

Typing and voice-to-text are better, especially since directness is a greater joy. And you can always just paint something for fun.

But most of all, it's irrelevant to type design.


Shrenik's picture

What's the future of type design?
It is really nice question.. The future of type is the past of type: visual language.
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nimi's picture

But i really don't know what is the solution.. Type is no longer just for paper leading to flexible possibilities in typeface design....technology will solve this issue... Why we worried about this..
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nimi's picture

Good question

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