It is my conviction that you cannot be a good type designer if you are not a book typographer. I am not talking here about display types but about text types. A type designer must know how type works in a piece of text, he must know what happens with the type on different sorts of paper, he must know how a typeface behaves with different printing techniques.
For me the basis of all good text typefaces is writing with a broad nibbed pen. The contrasts in written characters is derived in a natural way, and it is the type designer who translates these contrasts in a printing type. It is not only the contrast that comes into being, also the widths and proportions within the characters flow from the pen. Making a seriffed typeface based on a sans serif leads to unbalanced proportions.
I am of course not saying you cannot design a sans serif without first making a seriffed typeface, there are a lot of fine sans serifs that are designed without a written base. But when a family of serif and sans serif is created it is my conviction that the seriffed version is the starting point.
A good typographer does what he should do, not what he wants to do. While there are certainly many solutions to the problem of designing any one book, the better solutions — the solutions that are best for the reader — are often the simplest, or, appear to be the simplest. Ironically, the careful and thoughtful work of the designer should hardly appear at all to the casual reader lest he be distracted from the content at hand. The temptation to use typographic trickery can be overwhelming, but the careful typographer must determine what is truly required to best communicate the specific and coherent ideas of the author or artist. Only when these ideas are conveyed — no matter how delicious the paper or precious the binding — can a book be beautiful. However, while we’re trying to convey those aforementioned ideas, why not letterspace the small caps and insert oldstyle figures and leave some room for your thumbs in the margins? That’s what we do — even if you don’t want to pay for it. We just can’t help ourselves.
Developing typefaces is an old craft. Today, we see that typefaces is getting a more and more important role in corporate identities. It is recognized that a typeface is a strong element in the toolbox of a visual identity. We at Kontrapunkt would also like to pace typefaces forward. Having your own font is a subtle and elegant way to illuminate identities.
When it comes to construction documents, then you have to design by computer, because the procedure is mathematical, is digital. You are still a craftsman, except that your tool is getting more sharp. Architecture is the most imposing art, but in the end it’s about beauty, it’s about truth, and it is unattainable! We don’t impose a personal stamp; we may impose our skill, our coherence. I love lightness; transparency is coherence. We have a sense of inadequacy, when you are just about to grab the vision you have, you face an immense gap, you find that you arms are too short. You only understand when the building is finished. A new building, even if it is beautiful it needs time. Even a classic at its time it was modern, modernity is a funny concept, you don’t really know what is good what is wrong. This is the problem of architecture, it is rational, but it is also very much about intuition. Intuition when you are young it has not been informed by experience, that is why hands are so important, to metabolize, so it seems the gesture of the hands are closer to intuition than to the brain. Every place has a little genius! The building is a presence… They sing only when they have a soul. Still, poetry lasts more than a stone.
Sculpture should always give the impression, whether carved or modeled, of having grown organically, created by pressure from within.
Language is not so much a creator or shaper of human nature, so much as a window onto human nature.
Usually, and quite rightly, newspaper design is bound by the conventions of its production and structure, by the fast turnaround of ideas that precludes against overtly expressive design, and by the formal traditions, craft and Victorian ideologies of the newspaper. News designers live very much on the grid, working from templates, tied by the rules of preassigned headline, text, caption sizes, precise spacing. It is an exacting, dictatorial, inherently rigid view of the world of design. The grid is the imperious king, with whom you do not mess.
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
–Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Words are defined as vehicles that takes us even mentally, spiritually, physically, to places that we’ve never gone.