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From metal to phototypesetting: new opportunities in typeface design

When Sun 21 Sep 1040
Where Museu del Disseny
What
Who Alice Savoie

The years following WWII marked the beginning of a period of radical changes in typesetting technologies. After 500 years of printing with metal type, the first machines that could set type photographically reached the market, initiating three decades of intense development in photocomposition, and challenging years of well-established practices in type manufacturing. With phototypesetting, most typographical conventions inherited from metal type had to be redefined; the character matrix had to be reinvented; and relationships between designers and manufacturers had to be reconsidered. This presentation will discuss the influence of early phototypesetting technologies on typeface design and production, and compare the approaches adopted by major type manufacturers to the transition from metal to film. It will investigate the reasons behind their choices when devising a type library, from adapting existing metal faces to commissioning new designs. The evolving role of the type designer will also be analyzed, by looking at the contributions of figures such as Adrian Frutiger, Mike Parker and Matthew Carter to creating a new kind of dialogue between designers, type manufacturers and other actors of the collaborative process. Overall, the presentation will highlight the significance of phototypesetting as a transitional technology that re-thought the processes of metal type production, and set many standards adopted by subsequent digital technologies.

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