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Kerning 2017

a personal report of chats, talks, and good times
Kerning Conference 2017

I am just back from “Kerning” Faenza, where I spent the last couple of days attending Richard Rutter “Responsive web typography” workshop and enjoying the conference on friday.

After Richard guidelines on web typography first thing I will have to dedicate some time to better fine tune this website… And I honestly can tell you that his Web Typography is the best crafted epub I’ve seen so far. Chapeau.

But back to the conference. There was a lot going on and many topics were covered, from the debate carried on for centuries about how typefaces should be drawn (geometric precision construction versus brushes and “it feels just right” method. Spoiler alert, short answer: a mix of the two). To an astonishing research by Dan Reynolds about the definition of “designer” when it comes to typefaces, and the role of the preindustrial makers in the adoption of standards like universal baseline and Didot measurement.

excerpt from Antonio Cavedoni talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Antonio Cavedoni talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Dan Reynolds talk at Kerning 2017

Excerpt from Dan Reynolds talk at Kerning 2017

Excerpt from Dan Reynolds talk at Kerning 2017

Excerpt from Dan Reynolds talk at Kerning 2017

Excerpt from Dan Reynolds talk at Kerning 2017

Excerpt from Dan Reynolds talk at Kerning 2017

you are not a gay person, you are a conscious sophisticated reader, that can appreciate fine typography, and happens to be gay.

Dan Rhatigan seven years “Hot types” filthy research brought us back to the time of rub-down and underground gay magazines, showing again how dtp revolution lowered down the quality and passion for inventive and tasteful typesetting. Oddly enough, as a consequence of democratisation and minority rights conquest, publishers were not anymore trying hard to make readers feel less stigmatised. In the place of careful Letraset picking of letters and ligatures in the eighties we had rainbow shadowed Helvetica titles.

Excerpt from Dan Rhatigan talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Dan Rhatigan talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Lars Harmsen Slanted and Jean François Porchez enlighten us with their amazing portfolios and stories about how they deal with clients and the visibility/invisibility of typography. Marianna Paszkowska walked us through her research about reading experience and Monotype Jan Charvát gave as a glimpse of the struggle of Georgia to lead their typography to the 21st century.

Excerpt from Lars Harmsen talk at Kerning 2017

Excerpt from Lars Harmsen talk at Kerning 2017

Excerpt from Jean François Porchez talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Jean François Porchez talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Jan Charvát talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Jan Charvát talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Variable fonts

There was a common topic though, shared among some of the talks, and it has to do with the future of typography. Not the close future but you can tell that there is a feeling that this time variable fonts will succeed. as Thomas Phinney pointed out first and foremost because four major players joined forces in this project (and this is quite unique), but also because a lot has changed in the last twenty years in IT and communication industries. You can also read Dan Rhathigan thoughts here.

Excerpt from Thomas Phinney talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Thomas Phinney talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Thomas Phinney talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Thomas Phinney talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Paszcowska talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Paszcowska talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Thomas Phinney talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Excerpt from Thomas Phinney talk at Kerning Conference 2017 in Faenza

Type designer responsibility.

What I bring home from Richard Rutter workshop, and from chats with the experts in between coffee breaks, is that, when this exiting moment of experimental features will finally open the road to a new mature system, we will deal with responsibility.

Committed and wise designer will make great use of this powerful new technology, still there will be plenty of others not so skilled or thoughtful. Leaving too much freedom in the tweaking of fonts can lead easily to destroy them, and generate monsters. Hopefully this technology will be used wisely but I have a vision of two web worlds: one will be the place where typography is honoured and treated with maximum care, in the other one we’ll struggle to even get through the first headline.
After all this is no huge difference to yesterday or today, the world wide web is really wide in terms of definition of what is “quality” and what “doing things right” means.

kerning 2017 staff

kerning 2017 staff

It has been two great days, surrounded by a deep saturation of talents that you hardly can find around, I mean, I don’t always have the chance to chat with Bruno Maag about his and her partner research on neurological impact of reading and how dyslexia is related to sound rather vision. I can’t wait to read some more. And I can’t wait for the next 2018 Kerning Conference. Well done guys.

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