TYPO Berlin 2009 – Space Is Over
I am just back from this year's TYPO Berlin which was held in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. As usual it was a blast. This is the third time in a row I attended what is the largest and possibly most important annual event for communication designers in Europe. I was a speaker in 2007's Music (Stephen and I explored the parallels between deconstructivist type design, and punk and hip hop music), and I enjoyed last year's Image as a member of the audience.
The technological nerve centre of TYPO backstage.
I am always impressed at how impeccably organised TYPO is when compared to other conferences I've been to. The logistics behind the event are awe-inspiring, with a brilliant team of collaborators and student workers, and a high-tech infrastructure including beautifully designed motion graphics identity bumpers and information screens, live video playback and so on. Apart from the famed German pünktlichkeit and efficiency I think an important factor is budget. As the organiser FontShop Germany has serious clout in the German-speaking countries the conference was able to grow and build a solid foundation. This in turn allows them to really go all the way and produce a great experience year after year.
Organiser Jürgen Siebert (front), Gemma O'Brien a.k.a. Mrs. Eaves (left), and in the background Sol Sender (left) and Mario Lombardo (right) at the press conference.
TYPO Berlin always has a central theme, and this year it was Space. Over the three days more than 60 international speakers from the graphic design, typography and art world – most of them very influential, and authorities in their area of specialisation – presented their work and shared their ideas with the audience. Some 1,200 accredited visitors from 16 different countries attended the lectures at the HKW, and participated in discussions and workshops. I stuck mostly to the main track, which I will report about in the coming posts. Unfortunately I only flew in on Thursday morning, so I missed both the press conference and the first two presentations.
Post-presentation rush to the restaurant for lunch.
As with any similar conference the theme can work either for or against the speaker, but fortunately there were more hits than misses. It also makes for a very diverse conference, and I've witnessed firsthand this can cause confusion amongst the audience. For example at TYPO Berlin 2007 – Music I on the one hand received the criticism that our presentation was not "music" enough, while on the other hand I overheard a group of students that complained the conference didn't have enough typography-oriented presentations. I guess you just can't please everyone.
The stand of the Bücherbogen book shop at Savignyplatz.
Now that I am back home and had the time to digest the whole experience I will write some reports about the conference. Live-blogging really isn't my thing, and it seemed pointless to add to the fine job others are doing, mostly on the TypoBerlin Blog. Plus the internet connection in the main hall was virtually non-existent, constantly blinking in and out of the ether. With hindsight I'm glad I couldn't take notes nor prepare the reports during the presentations, because I could really immerse myself, which heightened the whole experience. Discussing with other members of the audience afterwards helped me form a better appreciation of the talks, and sometimes strengthened my opinion or made me adjust it. And honestly? When I return to the hotel after midnight and want to be fresh the next morning for another full day of sessions, the last thing on my mind is writing a hurried and half-arsed account of the events.
Madness, mayhem, and generally good times at TYPO Night.
All images© Alexander Blumhoff