Computer Arts

TYPO London 2012 highlights

Last week's TYPO London event was definitely one of the highlights of the design calendar year with a A-list line up of industry speakers ranging from Vaughan Oliver to Paula Scher. Here are our selected highlights from Day One. Let us know what you thought of the event by adding your comments below

The second ever Typo London was bigger, better and more diverse than the inaugural event held in 2011 with talks split over three venues at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Taking the concept of 'social' as their theme, the 40+ speakers expored a wide range of topics in front of an audience of students and creative pros, covering everything from early school education to existentialism, social networking to 21st century newsgathering. Oh, and a fair bit of navel gazing.

Day One: Logan Hall

30 years in 30 minutes

 design legend Vaughan Oliver
Vaughan Oliver at Typo London 2012. Image © Gerhard Kassner

Our highlight from Day One was a whistlestop tour through the work of legendary graphic designer Vaughan Oliver, presented by the man himself. Nervy, self-deprecating and very funny, Oliver explained how he came to end up working for record label 4AD, designing album covers for artists like the Cocteau Twins, Pixies and Breeders how he created some of his most memorable pieces (sometimes by lucky accident) and how he became a typography master despite his loathing of the subject and ignorance of its jargon.

Design is a social journey

Bibliotheque's Tim Beard at Typo London 2012
Bibliotheque's Tim Beard at Typo London 2012

Further fascinating insights came from Bibliothque founder and creative director Tim Beard, who in-between walking through some of the studio's world-class work for the likes of D&AD, Google, London 2012 and Le Corbusier, shared his thoughts on the creative process - particularly the belief that great ideas can come from anyone in the studio, at any time. According to Beard, social connections can also be crucial to kick-start the next big project, and he talked through how a series of serendipitous links between individuals met at parties, launches and on other projects spawned some of Bibliothque's most exciting opportunities.

Getting a stiffy

Some might call it self-indulgent, but the Wallpaper* team's provocatively-named chat through the 'stiffies' they've received from some of the world's most prominent luxury fashion brands was a masterclass in print design. For those not in the know, a 'stiffy' is industry slang for an invite printed on lavishly thick stock and pulsing with super-high production values.

From Louis Vuitton and Prada to Adidas and beyond, editor-in-chief Tony Chambers and his team deconstructed the psychology behind luxury brand marketing as their trestle table buckled under years' worth of the stuff. A timetable clash with Noel Douglas' 'design practice for the common good' talk (see below) made for a stark contrast between consumerism and social responsibility.

Working hard and being nice to people

Anthony Burrill talks through his Work Hard & Be Nice To People poster
Anthony Burrill talks through his Work Hard & Be Nice To People poster

A child of the analogue era - he kicked off his talk with nostalgic memories of playing with the zoom function on photocopiers - Anthony Burrill made his talk about the beauty of authentic, handmade craft. Born and bred in the village of Rye, Burrill recalls how he fell in love with the woodblock letterpress workshop Adams of Rye - with which he would later collaborate on his Work Hard & Be Nice To People poster.

He's since forged a similar relationship across the pond with the vibrant LA-based Colby Poster Printing Co for a show at Shoreditch's KK Outlet, while his Oil And Water Do Not Mix project made the medium the message, screenprinting a series of prints using crude oil from the BP oil spill.

Day One - Jeffrey Hall

Creative education

 Ba Beste. Image  Jason Wen
Ba Beste at Typo London 2012. Image © Jason Wen

For her presentation on The Learning Of The Future, The Future Of Learning presentation,  Ba Beste explained the problems many creative students have with today's education system and then set out possible plans to solve them using examples of innovative, creative approaches to education in schools and colleges around the world - including Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning in Australia and the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company.

Beste went on to explain her own solution to the problem: Playducation - an innovative, play-based approach to education and learning that satisfies the needs of very young creatives and prepares them for the adult world of the future.

Social story telling

 Mariana Santos and Mark McCormick on social storytelling at The Guardian
Mariana Santos and Mark McCormick (The Guardian) at Typo London 2012. Image © Jason Wen

One of the most fascinating talks at Typo London 2012 revolved around The Guardian newspaper's innovative approach to newsgathering in the social networking age and its use of infographics in print and online to explain complex subjects in a graphical, easily comprehensible way. The Guardian's presentation - given by Mariana Santos and Mark McCormick - explained how the newspaper collates, curates and editorialises updates from Facebook and Twitter users to give stories such as its coverage of last year's London riots added integrity and realism.

Mariana Santos explained how clever use of interactive infgographics on The Guardian's website is used to engage readers more deeply in the story. One example she cited was for The Guardian's You Make The Cuts story, which asked readers to put themselves in Chancellor George Osborne's shoes and then decided which element of government spending should be slashed and by how much.

Design practice for the common good?

 Noel Douglas of Occupy Design UK
Noel Douglas of Occupy Design UK at Typo London 2012

Making an earlier-than-expected appearance in the Drama Studio at Typo London 2012 were Noel Douglas and Tzortsis Rallis of Occupy Design UK who talked a small-ish audience through the work of the Occupy movement, The Occupied Times newspaper and how graphic design - and graphic designers - can have an impact on highlighting the issues we all face during a time of austerity, bank bailouts and a growing gap in wealth and opportunity between the top 1% and the rest of the population. Douglas also took the organisers of Typo London to task during his presentation, arguing that the cost of student tickets (£225) for the event were far too high.

Tell us about your highlights of Typo London 2012. We'd love to hear from you

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