Type News

Serebro Nabora 2014 (Part 2)

April 13, 2015 by
Sonja Knecht
Sonja Knecht

From Russia with love: An insight into the ten conference days in Moscow that had a lasting impact. From turning letter-drawing rules on their head, to learning about “functionovelty” and getting to know the outlaw among punctuation marks: Part 2 explores, questions, and confirms conventions.

You might like to catch up first with part 1: The Dutch invasion and wonderful workshops. After learnings about type tools and how to do with or without them, the following talks at Serebro Nabora were a perfect follow-up.

Some impressions of the conference venue:

The railroad track effect

David Jonathan Ross about the charm of reverse contrast type

David Jonathan Ross of Font Bureau goes “Backasswards!” and takes his topic way more serious than the title might suggest. He examines reversed-stress typefaces and how they “flip letter-drawing conventions on their head”. With their heavy horizontal strokes and thin vertical stems, reverse to most other typefaces, these tend to deliver “eye-catching and sometimes even useful results”. They are associated with the American West – “typeface design is about expectations” – but have much more to offer.

David Jonathan Ross addresses the categories opposition, texture, funkiness and dynamism in reverse contrast typefaces.
David Jonathan Ross addresses the categories opposition, texture, funkiness and dynamism in reverse contrast typefaces.

Opposition: Type became larger and more eye-catching with advertising. With “Italian” Caslon (ca. 1821), for example, all elements that were thin before are really fat now and vice versa (with exceptions like the crossbar of the A). More examples include Paragon Italian Shades by Vincent Figgins, or Karloff Negative (“really ugly in the best sense”). David shows Karloff Cyrillic by Moscow-based type designer Maria Doreuli, who also is Gayaneh Bagdasaryan’s helping hand in organizing the whole conference plus exhibitions – so, a big fat double THANK YOU goes out to Maria! Cyrillic offers a lot of possibilities for reverse stress, says David, “it has so many serifs”. Applause at this point, of course. We enjoyed the examples that he showed, from historical to contemporary to brand-new. On the cover of a Texas Monthly Magazine 2012 edition, he found “the M. C. Escher of ampersands”: in Kris Sowerby’s Maelstrom.

Maelstrom by Kris Sowerby, with “the M. C. Escher of ampersands”.
Maelstrom by Kris Sowerby, with “the M. C. Escher of ampersands”.

David’s own font is called Manicotti “because it is like Italian Western but thicker and faster”. During the design process, he discovered that the inner shape looked like a hamburger, and if you concentrate on them next to each other, they would remind you of a railroad track: again, an M.C. Escher-like system.

The “counterburger“ in David Jonathan Ross’ typeface Manicotti.
The “counterburger“ in David Jonathan Ross’ typeface Manicotti.

„This is where the action happens”: the railroad appears when we have rows of those letters closely next to each other and concentrate on their inner shapes.
„This is where the action happens”: the railroad appears when we have rows of those letters closely next to each other and concentrate on their inner shapes.

Shapes, not cowboyness

Texture: In this section, David shows American Wood Type examples (1828–1900), a style that forever became associated with “Wanted” posters and the American frontier. They are still to be found. More modern examples include secret work of famous designers like Max Miedinger or Adrian Frutiger’s Westside (1989), or the 1947 Knoll logo by Herbert Matter, or Figaro by Monotype (1940). David puts it simple and clear: “This isn’t about cowboyness, it’s about shapes. It is amazing how one rule can change the overall appearance of a typeface totally”.

Figaro typeface by Monotype Design Studio, 1940.
Figaro typeface by Monotype Design Studio, 1940.

Funkiness: Cool topic, of course, and reverse stress provides it with ease. First to mention is rock poster artist Victor Moscoso. After studying in New York City and at Yale University, he moved to San Francisco and became well-known for his use of vibrant colors and collages in his posters for Hippy clubs like the Avalon Ballroom. His art led to international attention in the “Summer of Love” (1967). One of David’s favorite samples by Moscoso is a Quicksilver Poster. Victor Moscoso was interviewed as a speaker at TYPO San Franciso in 2014, a highly recommended read!

And there are also:

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And there is much more to discover. David summarizes: “Wild east or wild west or space – it’s about using the effect to create movement, and difference” (not sameness, at this point). One of his all-time favorites remains to be Aldo Novarese’s Estro (from 1961). It displays reserve stress, plus “a wild baseline, a sketchy new style, a great combination of rules”; rules being combined and applied in a totally new way. Modern examples of typefaces with reverse stress that create dynamic effects include Chimera by, again, Maria Doreuli (2013), with an Italic David “almost gets seasick from”.

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[link not found]

With reverse stress, David sums up, “the balance between familiarity and novelty is tricky” and something he tries to use in his own work – good advice. I guess we dealt with the aspect of Dynamism also at this point, because David ends up with a new term that seems to fit the style those typefaces display best: functionovelty.

Functionovelty

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To David Jonathan Ross, the Noordzij Cube covers a great part of type terrain. How to find your own space then? Well, again, flip expectations to the reverse.

“Create a space on your own”. Use the academic approach and literally reverse everything, or work with optical corrections (as seen before), create your own rule, and exceptions to those rules, where necessary. Goes not “only” for type design.

For more examples, check out David’s presentation on Slideshare. We continued to explore the delicate balance between familiarity and novelty with our next speaker, John Hudson of Tiro Typeworks, designer of Constantia typeface and many others. He asked for the “Same Difference”.

What is the type designer doing and why?

John Hudson about sameness and difference

To John (“I really like conceptual frameworks”), the practice of design can be understood in terms of “managing relationships of sameness and difference”. He speaks about how various aspects of sameness (like harmony, coordination) can be applied to letters and writing systems, which are necessarily different. Quite an opening thought.

No wonder Gayaneh Bagdasaryan introduces him by saying that she does not use Wikipedia, but learns from John Hudson’s type and website. To John, in order to avoid or diminish confusion, the general question in type design is: “how much difference do I preserve, how much sameness do I apply?”

Types of sameness

Good news for graphic designers, maybe: These concepts do not necessarily lead to strict rules concerning the applicability of typefaces. Their weights and proportions make them “able to be used together without noticing”, like Didot and Helvetica, which “carry each other in their DNA”. The overall idiomatic style is more important than using or copying the same details, says John. “Adopting a typeface to another language system is always a kind of translation, so each translation carries certain characteristics of the original”. To him, type design can be inspired by an idea similar to that of the same song (or text) being sung (designed) in different ways. Listening to John Hudson, thinking in terms of sameness and difference becomes compellingly logical, clear – and beneficial.

To the type designer: We want to attract readers. To the reader: What a type designer does, even if he or she does it differently than done before, does not change things (letters, writing systems, contents) – it affirms them.

Drawing the difference – to confirm sameness: John Hudson at Serebro Nabora 2014.
Drawing the difference – to confirm sameness: John Hudson at Serebro Nabora 2014.

“Differences of type, letters, writing systems should not disappear“ (John Hudson).
“Differences of type, letters, writing systems should not disappear“ (John Hudson).

A kind (of) translation

At the end of John’s fascinating talk, the beautiful concept of the whole conference became obvious again: Gayaneh entered the stage to invite the audience to contribute. Which in this case gave John Hudson the chance to add to his rather sophisticated lecture richly:

Baseline: We should not willfully change the meaning of an original thing, going beyond the sense and work of translation.

To me, this discussion was a wonderful example both of how a type conference can foster dialogue between visitors, and how discussions about type tend to reach out to other (inter-)cultural aspects of all kinds.

The role of the facilitator here is really worth mentioning: Gayaneh Bagdasaryan fostered dialogue by being an excellent conference host and presenter herself. She introduced the speakers in a short, friendly and concentrated way and after their respective talks gave them the chance to round up their topics, supported by the audience. At Serebro Nabora, there was never the feeling a question might not fit, content- or time-wise. Schedules were perfectly adhered to in a totally relaxed way it seemed. Each speaker and topic were treated with great interest – another aspect that added to an impressive Moscuvian experience. Meet Gayaneh at this year’s TYPO Berlin conference as a speaker.

A craft like surgery

Irina Smirnova about the wholesomeness of calligraphy

Irina Smirnova offers a “Theory of Writing: between East and West”. She studied type design at the Moscow State University of Printing Arts and did the TypeMedia Masters Course in The Hague. Currently, Irina is a free-lance type designer, teaching calligraphy, and working for Ermolaev Bureau. Note: She was the first Russian and the first female speaker at Serebro Nabora.

Irina Smirnova states her questions: Do we really need handwriting? Can calligraphy be useful nowadays? In China, type design is just “a craft like surgery”, while calligraphy is “the first of the arts”. Irina wants to find out why it has such a high status in China and thus decided to learn more about Chinese calligraphy. What she learned: Chinese calligraphy has a sacral communicative function. Its second function is social, it is about communicating in the system. Third is its high aesthetical esteem: China is the only country where calligraphy is displayed in the wide open; it can be seen on huge rock formations even.

Comparing hot and green

Absolutely essential is the spiritual development of the person who does calligraphy. The personality of the calligrapher is always involved, his or her personal experiences and state of mind. Vice versa calligraphy has a positive influence on the writer’s state of health. The more harmonious the art the longer he or she would live. (Makes me think about Hermann Zapf, age 96). In China, working as a calligrapher means you are transforming the whole universe.

What an approach. Hold on a second.

Is it possible to compare Eastern and Chinese Writing? Some experts say no. To them, it would be like comparing hot and green. But Gerrit Noordzij’s theory of writing, for example, makes the two traditions comparable. The relationships between black and white can be looked at; and in both traditions we can think of an imprint of a writing tool that moves and creates a stroke. There is a similar relationship between calligraphy and movements. In China, writing gesture and speed of your production are very important. It is compared to a dance. In the act of writing, your whole body helps to express your ideas. Both Chinese and Western writing can be running (fast and connected) or interrupted (slow and articulated).

Thus, movement and thinking go side by side, says Irina, referring to Erik van Blokland’s and Peter Verheul’s teaching and their handwriting models which feature only hand movements and directions – but never show perfect letterforms. Every student has to find his or her own perfection in form.

In the late 80ies, first (Western) handwriting fonts were created – still going strong: Erikrighthand, 1990, and Justlefthand, 1991). Artists have explored the act of writing before, like Paul Klee obviously did with his picture entitled „Umgriff“(1939), obviously depicting a writer, the act of writing and the movement of a pen.

The audience was fascinated by Irina’s talk. There seems to be a rising interest in calligraphy in Russia. Questions address the Chinese tradition of writing with water on street surfaces (that would vanish almost immediately). It seems there is a big community of people practicing and learning calligraphy. Being asked whether she herself designs typefaces using Chinese calligraphy as a basis, Irina responds: “I strongly disapprove creating European fonts which look like Chinese fonts …” (which again leaves room for discussion).

Crucial for Chinese calligraphy are “a flying brush and a carving knife”: Irina Smirnova explores what Chinese calligraphy has to offer to Russian and Western type designers.
Crucial for Chinese calligraphy are “a flying brush and a carving knife”: Irina Smirnova explores what Chinese calligraphy has to offer to Russian and Western type designers.

Bridging gaps

To give you a little summary at this point:

Day one of the conference (plus the range of workshops described in part 1 of my review) was a lot of input concerning type tools and technologies and personal ways, experiences and recommendations of how to work with type: Make your own design decisions and go further than needed, to be rewarded with even better and more astonishing results. Maybe a rather “Western” attitude?

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Together with American Jonathan David Ross talking about, yes, true “Western” fonts, and UK-born Canadian John Hudson talking about type designing concepts, this conference day was dominated by the very advanced experiences of three senior Dutch type experts with a huge personal development each, and with their accumulated know-how. Plus, Irina Smirnova rounding up the impressions by wonderfully bridging Western and Eastern ways with far Eastern type and calligraphic cultures. Additionally, the excellent questions and comments from the audience made the day.

Different country, same problem.
Different country, same problem.

Different language, same books. (Both pictures taken when visiting Paratype foundry.)
Different language, same books. (Both pictures taken when visiting Paratype foundry.)

On Saturday evening, we all moved to a gallery where “Type Graduation Projects 2014” were presented: both by local students from Alexander Tarbeev’s Type Design Workshop at Moscow State University of Printing Arts of Ivan Fedorov (abbreviated as “MGUP” in Russian), and by students from abroad, namely from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (TypeMedia Masters Course) and from Reading University (MA Typeface Design). The respectable results plus an extremely communicative atmosphere invited everybody to stay, to join conversations and meet people. We stayed way longer than we intended to – and it was worth it. For more information, links and photos please contact and follow Maria Doreuli on Facebook and on Twitter (@maria_doreuli), and find a nice photographic survey of the exhibition with Alexander Tarbeev on Facebook.

The wonderful German language seems to be quite adequate for type graduation posters.
The wonderful German language seems to be quite adequate for type graduation posters.

Did I mention type designers to be rather stylish people? At Serebro Nabora (and in Moscow in general) it was the shoes that arouse attention :)
Did I mention type designers to be rather stylish people? At Serebro Nabora (and in Moscow in general) it was the shoes that arouse attention :)

Yuri Yarmola of Fontlab and John Hudson of “Sameness and Difference” at the exhibition.
Yuri Yarmola of Fontlab and John Hudson of “Sameness and Difference” at the exhibition.

Like an anthropologist

Eugeny Grigoriev and the aesthetics of the dash

On Sunday morning at 11 Eugeny Grigoriev awaited us with “The Dash. Rules and Aesthetics”. Great topic. Wonderful lecture! Eugeny summarizes the history of the dash – or rather, the several dashes.

Em- or en-dash? With spaces or without?
Em- or en-dash? With spaces or without?

No other punctuation mark seems to have caused such heated disputes as the dash did.
No other punctuation mark seems to have caused such heated disputes as the dash did.

Is it em- or en-dash? Sidebearings or not? With spaces around it, or without? The setting rules, affected by traditions and technologies, have been changed in various typographic cultures. The typographic standards have not survived. But not because nobody would care: Throughout decades, no other punctuation mark seems to have caused such heated disputes among type designers and typographers. Eugeny, a typographer and book designer from Saint Petersburg, says he feels like an anthropologist with his topic – “and people also laugh about it”. Well, we don’t. Welcome home.

Eugeny Grigoriev, dash expert and book designer from Saint Petersburg.
Eugeny Grigoriev, dash expert and book designer from Saint Petersburg.

The outsider among the punctuation marks

Eugeny-the dash-expert gives us a survey: The dash is one of our youngest punctuation marks. It appears only in the 18th century. In the bible, you can not find dashes. If the dash is at the place where it should be it has a certain meaning. The shape of the dash and its length can influence the reader’s perception. So far so good – so useful. But the dash came “as an unpleasant surprise” for typesetters and typographers. They had to struggle with the new sign. But why? What is the main problem with the dash?

It is horizontal.

The biggest problem with the dash is simply that it is horizontal, thus always standing out from the rest of the text.
The biggest problem with the dash is simply that it is horizontal, thus always standing out from the rest of the text.

A thousand utopian schemes have been formed around the dash.
A thousand utopian schemes have been formed around the dash.

In the beginning, typesetters used unspaced dashes, which was strange because usually the hyphen is the one which unites whereas the task of the dash is to clearly separate. A dash with no spaces looks like it unites – quite a contradiction and wrong in the eyes of the reader. Here, optical aspects collide with function and meaning.

The Germans were the most unlucky

Eugeny Grigoriev displays dash traditions of different language systems:

Note: A dash was not part of a typeset. It was more like an unwelcomed outsider that had to be integrated in one way or the other.

In the early 20th century, dramatic changes arose:

Em- or en-dash? With spaces or without?
Em- or en-dash? With spaces or without?

To summarize these last bits and the ongoing confusion: Dashes were obviously not designed and produced in a variety of sizes, widths or contrasts (so they would fit to each typeface in different grades). They seemed not to belong to the character set; and they were absolutely difficult to integrate.

The different efforts produced some conflicts and discussions, like what Eugeny calls “elongated hyphen vs bastard dash”: The em-dash should never be a substitute for a hyphen. A hyphen is thicker than the em-dash and supposed to be uniting, not separating. There is the ¾-em rule, which according to Eugeny and his findings, seems to be quite useful. And there was also “Robert Bringhurst vs the Chicago Manual of Style”: An em-dash is more like an exclusion rather than a part of a normal type set, he said; it is much too long and dramatically long, he said. So in many cases, it was aesthetics vs semantic function.

Even with contemporary typefaces, fonts “offer surprises” as far as dashes are concerned, as Eugeny puts it. He provides two examples:

Maybe a possible solution could be to use a dash from a different font? But that “can be an unpleasant surprise as well …” Good news (to me as a writer, not only to you designers out there): Obviously there are type designers who care about the dash. Eugeny mentions Matthew Carter, he is (and always was) very much in favour of designing a dash for each font, and to design it properly of course, “so that it can be used just as it comes”. Maybe you like to search Matthew Carter‘s fonts specially for the dash; would be worth it I’m sure. And for German readers here you find a review including Matthew Carter’s excellent talk about “Untypical Type” at last year‘s conference in Raabs (Austria).

A lot of old fonts still exist where you can only solve the dash problem manually. With newer fonts, it is easier, as we saw (if we were lucky) because they often have dashes which are designed especially for the font. Like any quotation mark or comma.

Stroke of thought

I very much liked the fact that Eugeny raised the question about the linguistic function of the dash, comparing, for example, Russian and German. And how about its vertical placement? He suggested that the dash should be placed at the middle bar of the ’e’.

During some of the exhibition gatherings, I had the chance to talk to Eugeny (with a little help of Daria Petrova of LucasFonts as our interpreter). Above all, he is a book designer, which is where his attention and interest in the dash and its history and function arose from. He knew that the German dash is traditionally an en-dash with spaces before and after the dash (you can easily write it using the “alt” key together with the hyphen on your keyboard – AppleMacintosh only). I shared with Eugeny the beautiful notion (and he liked it a lot) that in German, the dash is called Gedankenstrich which literally means “thought stroke” – a stroke that marks the end of a thought and the beginning of the next, or a sudden new thought that you add to your text additionally. Thus, it very literally refers to the function of the sign, which it has in other languages as well.

Eugeny kindly explained that with Russian language and typesetting the rules (not only) for dashes are very dogmatic, restricting you as a typesetter and designer. That is why he wanted to find out about the different possibilities – to maybe choose from, to have more variety. We very directly get the impression that people like him not “only” do research work about letters… Typographers and typographic researchers in Russia strive towards cultural changes.

The next speaker adds to this and backs up our insights about the specific role of type (and) design in certain cultural and political systems.

Parallel existences

Vladimir Krichevsky and the double book design

“Good afternoon dear colleagues”, says Vladimier Krichevsky and presents a book he designed together with a colleague. Under the descriptive title “Two faces of one revolution” it is “devoted to typography of a decade complicated and tragic, as well as bold and vivid: revolutionary Twenties of the 20th century”. The book represents “two type font realities different in all dimensions”, says Vladimir Krichevsky. These two realities and the stories behind them do not represent any kind of continuity; they had “a parallel existence”. The book has two authors, two parts, and was not only designed but also written separately. “I didn’t have any agreement with my co-author”, says Vladimir Krichevsky. They only agreed on the concept of the book. So you have to turn over the book to read one part from one side, the other from reverse.

This sounds quite dramatic but turned out to be a fair cooperation. “My co-author couldn’t come here today“, says Vladimir Krichevsky, and shares with us the fact that “he is fantastically skilled” in the so-called Chekhonin style. Sergey Vasil’evich Tchehonine (Chekhonin) was a Russian graphic artist, illustrator, portrait miniaturist and ceramicist (1878–1936). Chekhonin got widely known as a creator of so-called “propaganda porcelain” and as the designer and illustrator of many Soviet publications. His works are in many USSR museums and his artistic legacy is far-reaching, as we see.

Let’s look at some pictures Vladimir Krichevsky has to offer from his book – to learn visually about Chekhonin style and Russian square sans composing (which they call “sticks“ letters, I’ve been told) .

For better pictures please find this review about the book “Два шрифта одной революции” (Two Typefaces of One Revolution), and also here. If you want to know more specifically about Chekhonin type please see pictures of the typefaces designed by Sergey Chekhonin himself.

The last picture above nicely captures the spirit of those rather free-minded times in early 20th century in Russia, showing Vladimir Krichevsky’s mother in a group of friends (first she refused to be part of those hooligans, he reports). The freshness of those faces reflect how outstanding and important cultural things were going on in that time, says Vladimir Krichevsky. I must apologize for the poor pictures and my poor knowledge of Russian type avantgarde – it is a topic worth taking a closer look. Hopefully there will be more lectures about it at one of next Serebro Nabora or other type conferences. Vladimir Krichevsky summarizes the political implications of the two faces of Russian (type) design in a side remark:

”What I did not write in my book is that I associate Chekhonin style with Trotzki and square sans with Lenin.“

Actually, there were several occasions at this very special conference that reminded us of the luxurious conditions we live and work in, in Germany: with almost no political implications or suppressions concerning our work, with lots of opportunities to meet in our creative communities, exchanging knowledge and ideas on type and design. Mentioning the special qualities of Serebro Nabora conference to one Russian guy he put it quite simply: ”It was not official. It was professional.“ Which became only clear to me when he added: “It was not from the government.“ It was not clear to us “Westerners” in the first place how outstanding an event like a type conference is in a country such as Russia, as it is one of the very rare opportunities to meet people who work in the same field as you, with the same passion, which normally no one around you would share and understand.

A question from the audience both for Vladimir Krichevsky and the previous speaker (Frederik Berlaen about “More Tools, Please!”, I wrote about him in part 1 of my review): If it would be possible to create a plug-in for Robofont which would create Chekhonin style: yes, it would be possible! Looking forward.

The Russian type family

Elena Novoselova about her teacher Alexander Tarbeev

Next on stage was Elena Novoselova describing Alexander Tarbeev’s type design workshop. Alexander Tarbeev (he is rather active on Facebook) (a bunch of us were lucky to be invited for dinner in his house) is an influential figure in Russian type design, teacher of Maria Doreuli et al. Alexander Tarbeev has been teaching at Moscow State University of Printing Arts since 2002. Some of his students continued their type design study at Type and Media in The Hague (KABK), two of them are TDC winners.

Elena Novoselova felt like being the member of a “type family” when working with Tarbeev and her co-students. She portrayed experiences like when he turned 50 in 2006, and they made posters remembering Hermann Zapf who turned 88 in that year. It was not only fun and “it was not enough to make a font to graduate from our school; the main issue is a magazine“. She describes that each issue contains come research resembling a graduate project, an interview and a story about how you created your fonts.

Feeling like a type family at Alexander Tarbeev‘s place: Daria Petrova and Aleksandra Samulenkova (of LucasFonts), Just van Rossum, Krista Radoeva, Maria Doreuli, Erik van Blokland, Frederik Berlaen, and Alexander Tarbeev’s sons (picture courtesy of some Russian friend, found at Alexander Tarbeev‘s Facebook account)…
Feeling like a type family at Alexander Tarbeev‘s place: Daria Petrova and Aleksandra Samulenkova (of LucasFonts), Just van Rossum, Krista Radoeva, Maria Doreuli, Erik van Blokland, Frederik Berlaen, and Alexander Tarbeev’s sons (picture courtesy of some Russian friend, found at Alexander Tarbeev‘s Facebook account)…

… Alexander Tarbeev, Luc(as) de Groot, and me.
… Alexander Tarbeev, Luc(as) de Groot, and me.

A beautiful fact that we learned: The German word “Schrift” exists in Russian! Elena Novoselova made at least one person in the audience extremely happy with that information … because “Schrift“ in a very profound and basic way comprises meanings like type, typeface, font, script, handwriting, writing system, scripture, written work, document, … and can not really be translated or even described in English. Sorry.

As a compensation, please check out the “Shameless Self-Promotion” (no, not at all) of Elena Novoselova’s Russian “Type Family” around Alexander Tarbeev, and find their type design graduate magazines on Issuu.

Of curves, lines, light … and skeu-somethings

Spontaneous speaker Jean-Baptiste Levée

Jean-Baptiste Levée of Production Type regretted to inform us that there would be very little type in his lecture, but was warmly welcomed anyways because he filled in for someone who was ill. He talked about “what interests me and what I have to be aware about all the time when working”. Share some of his toughts:

Are type designers natural scientists or craftsmen? Jean-Baptiste Levée feels they are “very far away from artisans” and may be closer to product design, being concerned about methods and tools – and curves.

Last speaker Laurenz Brunner

Laurenz Brunner of Lineto started off with his Russian grandparents and his “rigid Swiss background” which made him escape to London, Amsterdam, Berlin. I am afraid I cannot explain his topic and I still don’t know exactly what skeuomorphs are. It somehow seems to root in archeology and ornaments and pottery and one example Laurenz Brunner showed us was a digital Nikon camera that looks like a reflex camera, emulating its typical click sound. I guess that is a skeuomorph. But I got no idea of how Laurenz Brunner relates it to type design (or if he wanted to at all). Quite frequently during his talk he stated to be “sure there are much more skilled people in that room” – yes, obviously – and ”sure that everyone is familiar with that” – well, no.

I am not familiar with The Francis Typewriter of 1857 or the Literacy Piano and the phenomenon of jammed type; I did not know about the double-s-combination letter on a Nazi-German typewriter or Paul Otlet or the Spritz speed point programme which “allows” you to read one word at a time on small devices, than the next word appears at the same small space (“the eye does not have to travel”), which make some people believe that with that you read three times faster (if you like mechanical, context-free reading), and there were some other phenomena/tools Laurenz Brunner mentioned … but sorry, I missed the point. Nüscht für ungut, as we say in Berlin (unadequately translateable with “sorry”). Maybe I was too absorbed by all the fascinating presentations before. I’m sure everyone is familiar with that :)

These last two speakers might be good examples of how some type designers reach out to all kinds of other sciences, arts and crafts to get inspired even by the obscurest things and even though it might not be – or they can not make it – understandable to us listeners.

But wait, this was not the end, my friends. There was something really exciting ahead: the announcement of the winners of the International Type Design Competition “Modern Cyrillic 2014” by head of jury Maxim Zhukov together with Gayaneh Bagdasaryan. Most entries were from Russia (64), second from the US, third from Germany (22), 20 from the UK, 14 from Serbia and 14 from Ukrainia.

Modern Cyrillic 2014 winner [Ilya Ruderman](https://www.facebook.com/ilya.ruderman).
Modern Cyrillic 2014 winner Ilya Ruderman.

Some happy winners of Modern Cyrillic 2014.
Some happy winners of Modern Cyrillic 2014.

Emil Yakupov R.I.P. (1957–2014)

And there was also something very touching: Before the winners were invited on stage we shared a moment of silence for Emil Yakupov of Paratype who died in 2014. We saw a movie about him with international colleagues and business partners remembering him in warm and respectful words. Please find an obituary for Emil Yakupov by Adam Twardoch on Typophile, and an interview with Emil Yakupov from 2011 on Everyday Type. Emil Yakupov had been engaged in the Modern Cyrillics Awards as a jury member.

Happy winners

This year, 20 award-winning projects have been chosen out of 350 entries in total. Six of 20 superfamilies were taken, 30% of the total amount, which means that the works were quite interesting (“total amount“ in this context makes me think of huge piles of letters being sent in). Please find them all on the Modern Cyrillic website. And guess what: Manicotta from David Jonathan Ross won twice!

So, flipping expectations on their head can just meet expectations sometimes.

Which goes for all our Moscow experience. Thank you so much everyone we met!

Read more in part 1 of my review (The Dutch Invasion) . For the next Serebro Nabora conference, please visit their website or contact Gayaneh Bagdasaryan (info@serebronabora.com). Take the chance to meet her as a speaker at these year’s TYPO Berlin conference! And please read this almost shockingly open interview with Gayaneh about her motivations: “I felt ashamed for my country”. Well, no need to, not type-conference-wise …

Yours truly as embedded “type writer”.
Yours truly as embedded “type writer”.