Babel #1 »non-latin«

Quick summary: This conference was rather great.

Held at the HFG Offenbach school, Babel #1 »non-latin« was their first (of hopefully many), one day type symposiums. The format was compact, but jam-packed, and they did a fine job of keeping everything  on schedule and ensuring the audience stayed focused.

The day was primarily organized by Sascha Lobe the chair of Typography at the hvg offenbach. I can’t say much about him or his work, but he’s been with the school for about 3 years, and apparently he’s a pretty clever guy if you judge him by this day.


Johannes Bergerhausen kicked off the lectures presenting a brief history of digital type up to the current state of Unicode. His name wasn’t already known to me, but it should have been… He is one of of the inspired people behind the invaluable project Decode Unicode. [Plug: they even made an stimulating and beautiful book about the topic.]

The incredibly talented and productive Peter Biľak came up next. He showcased some of his recent projects (of which there are many) and spoke of his philosophy of how language, technology, and craft must all work together for type designers and typographers. Most importantly, you must check out his latest venture: the upcoming magazine Works That Work. I will be surprised if it comes out anything less that enthralling.


(60 minute lunch break!)


Shoko Mugikura enlightened everyone about the insane Japanese writing systems. Really, there can’t be many more convoluted ways to write than in Japanese. Me being someone completely ignorant about Japanese, this talk is fascinating – she covered everything from the basics of how Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji work to how to use use them in complex typographic situations. I must say, Shoko gave nearly the same talk at Typo Berlin earlier this year and I got even more out of it the second time around (plus she has gained much confidence with her public speaking).

It was a pleasure to see my good friend Oded Ezer here again. I have biasedly included extra images of his talk here… Oded chose to consciously ignore the “non-latin” theme and show a variety of new experiments. After a few videos, and one sound piece (commendable efforts, but certainly not quite as developed than his letter-works), he got into more type and Hebrew-heavy content. The two highlights were about his amazing work on Rutz/Vesper Hebrew, and on his unconventional design and illustrations for the “New American Haggadah”.


(30 minute break!)


Ben Wittner, of the studio EPS51, presented their excellent exhibition currently in Berlin: Right-to-Left. I was quite happy to meet him and learn more about this show… it gave me the motivation that I needed to finally make it to the gallery to see it in person. All I can really say, is that you are currently reading this from Berlin, then you should get right to Kunstquartier Bethanien (Studio 1), Mariannenplatz 2, 10997. It’s up till December 9th (2012).

Anchoring the day was the lovely Na Kim. I was not concously familiar with her before, but I already knew some of her work with Graphic. Her presentation covered a bit of Korean and bilingual design, but the majority were on her miscellaneous design projects.


(The end)


(Quick dinner with Oded)

(Bonus evening event at the Klingspor Museum)
This was an excellent finale to the otherwise nearly perfect day. A handful of us were treated to an evening at the Klingspor to snack, drink, mingle, and see some of what’s happening at the museum. It was nice to see the Schrift in Form 3 exhibition, and hear Stefan Soltek give a modest account of some of the museum’s collections.

So to Sasha and the hfg offenbach: great job* and please do this again next year!


*My only real criticism (still minor) is that next time they should maybe try ending with a slightly more ‘famous’ speaker. Unfortunately, many students left during the second break, and didn’t get to see the last two presentations. Maybe not knowing the speakers there made their laziness/exhaustion/beer-deficit-awareness  kick in and inspired them to leave a bit early. It was a shame they missed Ben and Na.