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I just got back from this year’s TYPO Berlin, the international conference organized every year at Haus der Kulturen der Welt by FontShop. TYPO Berlin may be Europe’s largest graphic design conference, and its theme this year was change, perhaps because after 10 years, Erik Spiekermann had announced that this would be his last round as one of the organizers.
Unlike 2004, I spent this year working inside the Linotype Library’s stand in the lobby. My whole review should be read with a grain of salt, as I only took time off from speaking with customers to see three of the lectures.
From what I have heard, the real theme that ran throughout the conference’s presentations what not change, but vacation pictures. It seems that designers do in fact go on vacation. Once there, they take photographs, usually of type or lettering. And sometimes, the cool pictures they will go on to influence great work and big projects; but not always. We probably all do this.
If I have any critique of the conference, it was its “international” moniker. This may have been international as far as a designer conference goes, but it didn’t seem so wide in scope. Even though visitors from a number of countries were in attendance, most seemed to be either from Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. Or they were Danes or Dutch who spoke German. The speakers’ list was more geographically rounded out than previously, and credit must be given for that. This year, in addition to speakers from Germany, Holland, and the US, there was one speaker from Africa (Zimbabwe), one from South America (Brazil), and one from Asia (China, although she currently lives in Berlin).
The part of the conference that I most enjoyed was meeting the designers from Magma, who had traveled from Karlsruhe. They seemed to have had some sort of symbiosis with Hewlett-Packard, at whose exhibition stand they spent the three days showing (you guessed it) vacation photos. Magma is a design studio that runs Slanted—a German type blog—and Volcano Type, a small type foundry. These projects go along way toward creating and supporting real typographic dialogue within Germany, and it was good that their organizers were invited to speak.
TYPO Berlin, save a few last minute changes to the schedule, was well organized—especially the weather. Whoever it was at FontShop who played a role at that must definitely be commended, that was the biggest improvement over last year. Attendance seemed slightly lower than in 2004, but I don’t know the real figures, and in any case, the event was still well attended, especially by students. It is always good to see such a hefty percentage of students at conferences like these. They have the most to gain from large-scale design events, and FontShop’s generous student pricing made their volume of attendance possible.
Those of you who’ve read this far deserve a treat. Here is one (non-TYPO Berlin) related goody: SoFake’s Top Ten Commandments for dealing with clients. I got this link from David Linderman, a professor in Offenbach who is also from the United States, and currently living in Berlin. So true; take a look!