Fonts For The Web: Two Lectures by Jonathan Hoefler, November 2 & 14

What makes a good webfont? Before we wrote the first line of code for Cloud.typography, or lit the first pixel of our first ScreenSmart font, we began the search for a solution to this riddle. The answers are unexpected: a good webfont is more than just legible, and more than just attractive, and some provocative solutions come from some unexpected places. Webfonts can learn a lot from nineteenth century engraved maps, twentieth century dictionaries, and twenty-first century authors.

If you’re in New York this month, join me at Ampersand NYC this Saturday, November 2, or at a special lecture for AIGA/NY on November 14, for an exploration of what constitutes fine typography on the web. I’ll be sharing a behind-the-scenes look at how we brought our library of fonts to the web, and some new ways of looking at type that are useful for every cross-disciplinary designer. —JH

An H&FJ Lecture at the Cooper-Hewitt

Continuing its celebration of the tenth anniversary of the National Design Awards, The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is offering a wealth of excellent programming this season. On display through April 4, 2010 is Design USA: Contemporary Innovation; if you’re planning a visit soon, make it next Tuesday evening, when you can also attend Thinking in Type, a lecture by Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones. Registration is required, and seats are limited.


Thinking in Type
Tuesday, December 8, 2009, 6:30–8:30pm

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
2 East 91st Street
New York, NY 10128

What Was Next

Most of the talks that we’ve given are lost to the sands of time, but this afternoon I was happy to discover that one of our favorite presentations lives on. For the AIGA Design Conference in Denver, we were asked to meditate on the topic of “What’s Next,” for which we presented a study of typographic history — and why the ‘historical revival’ might be a twentieth century idea whose time has passed.

The AIGA has posted the audio of our talk, which tracks with the images above; it runs about 45 minutes, including some questions from the audience, in which Tobias reveals some of the unpublished developmental names of Gotham. Also keep an ear out for two provocative concepts: a French wine scholar offers a pithy gloss on experimentalism, and a certain type designer defines “the underpants-on-the-head school of revivalism.” —JH

Typographic Gifts for Designers, Part 15

If you’re an editorial designer, chances are that you’re familiar with the Society for News Design through its workshops, its excellent international conferences, and of course its annual. What you might not know is that SND operates the non-profit SND Foundation, which provides college scholarships, research grants, and travel stipends to help students attend its events. Did I mention the college scholarships for designers?

For last year’s conference in Las Vegas, SND Foundation President Bill Gaspard orchestrated a terrific keepsake: a deck of Custom Illustrated Playing Cards, for which 54 illustrators volunteered their time and talent, contributing one card each. Guessing correctly that H&FJ has a thing for the typography of playing cards, I was invited to design the packaging, affording me a chance to use not only some typographic ornaments that Tobias and I have been quietly collecting over the years, but two of our best wedge-seriffed typefaces, Saracen and Mercury. And naturally Gaspard and fellow designer Tyson Evans used our Deuce font on the cards themselves.

For those who weren’t able to make it to Vegas, SND is now offering sets of these commemorative cards for sale, for a tax-deductible contribution of $20.00. All proceeds go to support the work of the SND Foundation; did I mention the college scholarships for designers? —JH

Type Tour II

If you missed Tobias’s Typographic Walking Tour last September, and weren’t one of the 22 lucky callers to register for his 2008 encore performance, you’ve one more chance. Come to the 2008 FUSE conference, April 13–16 at the Chelsea Piers, where Tobias joins Malcolm Gladwell, Stefan Sagmeister, Debbie Millman, Chip Kidd and other sharp tacks for a three-day exploration of design and culture. The Type Tour begins April 13 at 11:00, and places are limited! —JH

London Calling

Just a quick note to let Londoners know that the Editorial Design Organization will be hosting an evening of editorial typography, featuring Janet Froelich of the New York Times Magazine, and Jonathan Hoefler of H&FJ. Free to EDO members, £20 for non-members, £5 for students.

American Night at the EDO
Wednesday, April 9, 6:00-9:00pm

Rootstein Hopkins Space
London College of Fashion
20 John Princes Street, W1G 0BJ
Inquiries to Gill Branston, 020 8906 4664

The Timeless Typography of Harper’s Bazaar

ASME has announced its winners for Best Cover of 2007, and we’re thrilled to see that of the six covers that feature typography, five are clients of H&FJ. You’ll see Chronicle on the cover of O, and our forthcoming Sentinel font on the cover of Texas Monthly. But especially gratifying is the 2007 award for Best Fashion Cover, which went to Harper’s Bazaar: it was Bazaar who commissioned our HTF Didot typeface in 1992, and fifteen years later, they’re still winning awards with it.

The flagging magazine that Liz Tilberis and Fabien Baron reinvented in 1992 has earned a place as one of the most significant redesigns in modern history. It debuted with an iconic cover that ASME ranks as one of the top ten covers in history, memorable not only for its striking portrait of Linda Evangelista, but for its arrestingly simple typography: in a font commissioned to be as crisp as possible, there appeared the single headline “Enter the Era of Elegance.” In an age when it’s not uncommon to run the entire table of contents on the cover, this was a brave and startling move. It’s telling that this same strategy is still serving Bazaar after all these years, and it speaks to the strength of the magazine’s editorial vision and the thought that went into its typography. So thanks to Stephen Gan and Glenda Bailey for including us in your continuing tradition, and to Fabien Baron and Liz Tilberis for making us a part of this extraordinary institution. —JH

Rocky Mountain Type High (.9186 inch)

A quick invitation for everyone who’s coming to Denver this weekend for Next: the AIGA Design Conference: Jonathan and Tobias will be speaking on Friday at 2:15, discussing how recent changes in the profession have brought about what might be the end of historical typography, and what this means for designers going forward. (They’ll also be offering a rare sneak preview of some projects that will debut in 2008.) A conference schedule appears here — come and join the conversation!

A Typographic Walking Tour

More than fonts, it’s lettering that contributes the dominant flavor to New York City’s typography. More often than not, these one-off inscriptions and signs, handmade by artisans in a variety of media, were rendered in styles unconnected with the business of typography, which refers only to the practice of creating alphabets for printing. But the advent of digital type has made it easier than ever to use a mere font for architectural lettering as well. Combined with the building boom that’s transforming the city faster than ever, the grand inscriptions and humble signboards that constitute our alphabetic inheritance are vanishing fast.

In preparing the Gotham typeface, which celebrates just one of New York’s unmistakable typographic themes, Tobias Frere-Jones assiduously photographed tens of thousands of signs throughout the metropolis. On Saturday, September 29 at 11:00, Tobias will be leading a typographic walking tour for AIGA/NY, which promises two and a half hours of the city’s most unexamined — and imperiled — typographic treasures. Space is limited, so book early. Don’t forget your camera, and a snack. Sold out! —JH

Update: Photos and more photos from type tour attendees.

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