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You are here: Home / Conferences / Hong Kong 2012 / Programme / 11–14 October – General programme

Learning how to swim

Issues in multilingual typography and typeface design
When Sat 13 Oct 1100
Where Hotel Icon
Who Roman Wilhelm

The presentation consists of the following two sections:

“Multilingual Typography / Cohabitation typographique / Koexistenz der Zeichen” – an international design research project at the Geneva University of Art and Design, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

As our world becomes progressively global, typographic practices of Asian, Latin and Arabic origin increasingly mingle and influence one another. More and more we see multilingual typography characterize the appearance of institutions, universities, trade fairs, transportation hubs, web portals and urban landscapes. The coexistence of information originating from different cultures challenge the principles of visual communication on a fundamental level. Defining these new foundations has now become a key issue for international design research institutions.

Contemporary typography has increasingly come to be regarded as a transcultural affair. Growing demand for multilingual design strategies and approaches follows the proliferation of multilingual media. As cultural codes mesh, the need for heightened transcultural consciousness and responsibility arises. How should designers meet these new requirements? How should traditional aspects be transferred and integrated into contemporary practice? What are the challenges and benefits brought by the interaction of visual cultures?

Led by Prof. Dr. Ruedi Baur, the core research team members Ulrike Felsing, Jeannine Moser and Roman Wilhelm are working on a comprehensive methodology of typographic multilingualism since 2007. Concentrating on the Chinese and Western typographies, they are accompanied by a second team focusing on the Arabic context. Alongside a series of academic workshops in China and Switzerland, the team has initiated the “SAME/DIFFERENCE Hong Kong Multilingual Typography Symposium 2011” jointly with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design, the urban intervention project “TypoBâle” in close collaboration with numerous well-known Chinese designers, before finishing its first publication, a double special issue of the renowned “Swiss Typography Magazine” which will be issued in good time before the conference. Wilhelm is also going to give some exclusive insights of an extensive book publication due to come in 2014.

Rough outline of the magazine content: Succeeding a visual case study on contemporary typography in China’s urban spaces, a detailed section on the ‘design of typographic relations’ gives insight into multi-script micro typography, representation of time, cartography, information design and annotation, font combinations, a categorization of multilingual letterings, text typography and a classification of several ‘levels of intermixture’ in printed matter. Enhanced by historic and linguistic material, an experimental showcase presents related works and research approaches by a number of prominent Chinese and Western designers. Apart from the collection and generating of material, its multilingual presentation is regarded an inherent part of the research process.

“Learning How To Swim – Issues in Latin-Chinese Typeface Design”

The second part of the presentation is dedicated Roman’s personal experiences, ideas and concepts by a German typographer and typeface designer who has been dedicating all his work to Western–Chinese interaction for more than ten years. Apart from his CJK Latin “Sung New Roman” being affected by a multitude of influences from Chinese typography, he will exclusively debut his latest outcome “Laowai Sung”, a fully handdrawn Chinese typeface consisting of 21000 characters, which expresses a fun way of being an outsider in the Chinese type design context, followed by some unexpected cross references on Cuneiform fonts.

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