Wednesday, September 8th at 9pm CST — This week’s conversation is supplemented by the thoughts and opinions of our guest, Armin Vit — one half of the dynamic-duo known to most as UnderConsideration (Armin Vit + wife and co-conspirator, Bryony Gomez-Palacio). We have him about a week before his talk at AIGA Chicago’s Design Thinking II, and we hope to search his head a bit, figuring out what makes him such an effective proponent for good design.
Armin Vit’s career has brought him from his original home in Mexico City, to Chicago, and then to New York (working with Michael Bierut at Pentagram). Today he runs projects through UnderConsideration’s Department of Design in Austin, Texas, and does his best to enjoy time spent with his young family.
Vit has written articles for many of the industry’s leading publications like HOW, STEP, and Eye. He’s also created content for Emigre and the UK-based design publication, Creative Review. As if that wasn’t enough, he continues to oversee the creation of several microblogs and design critique sites while touring the world as a welcomed speaker, talking about what else… our favorite topics… design, branding and typography.
There’s a lot more to Vit then we’ve got here, so check out the links at the end of this post and…
Join us, and Armin Vit, this Wednesday September 8th at 9pm CST, here at http://designchat.info/chat for a live video and text chat.
It will be great to talk with him and we hope to see you there too.
The live show is at 9PM CST.
That’s one hour later than usual! Don’t miss it.
Learn more about our guest, Armin Vit, at the following links.
I first heard about the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in 2005 or 2006 while attending the “Seek” conference at Northern Illinois University. I believe one of the speakers was from Thirst and she showed a couple of images that caught my eye. After the talk, she mentioned how great this little place was — this place where they printed the images I liked. It was a design destination only a couple hours from Chicago and even better yet, she mentioned that it was a “working” print museum — a place that might even let you create your own prints. It was obvious that I needed to look into this a little more.
Fast-forward a few years, and a few jobs, and I still had not looked it up. It had almost completely slipped my mind until sometime in 2009 when someone mentioned a new design documentary called “Typeface“. All I could get from the hype was that it was about a museum in Wisconsin dedicated to wood type and somehow involved The Post Family, a group of Chicago area artists and designers who are constantly showing up on the scene. (If you are unaware of these guys, I encourage you to visit their site.)
So… by chance… I noticed that a 9 AM showing of the documentary was scheduled at the 2010 Geneva Film Festival. I bought my ticket Friday night, and headed to the Saturday-morning screening.
That’s when it all came flowing back. I had heard of it, had been told about it, and somehow had avoided going to it. I was one of the folks mentioned in the documentary — one of the people who have not been there. I was one of the folks who have not experienced it and I might even be one of the folks letting it die in obscurity. What a shame.
So, last week (August 22nd), we finally made it happen. I had a weekend that was not completely packed with freelance work, and it felt like a great time to take a break from the Chicago suburbs. It was my chance to go to Two Rivers, Wisconsin and check out the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing museum for myself.
The city of Two Rivers sits directly on the shore of Lake Michigan (map). It’s about a 3 hour drive by tollway and freeway from Chicago and is commonly used as a quick stop-over for Chicago area vacationers on the way to Door County. It’s a city known as the birthplace for both for the ice cream sundae and the automatic clothes dryer (invented by the Hamilton company, the very same company that made the wood type housed in the museum). People seem to do a lot of fishing here, but it’s actually becoming a world-renowned destination for the typographically inclined.
With only one full-time employee, Jim Moran, and the help of a few volunteers it’s a wonder how they keep things straight. Jim’s ongoing schedule of workshops and printings seems to be accelerating as more people hear about its existence. At a recent Two Rivers Historical Society meeting Jim mentioned that they had a couple of designers from overseas come in to the area specifically to visit the museum. Several well known Chicago design schools travel there yearly and according to Jim they were even asked to supply some wood type to the “Levis Workshops“. Unfortunately they were unable to fulfill the request because of under-staffing and time restraints. Many corporate design teams and design boutiques are constantly calling the office looking to hold workshops for their staff. There was a small rumor circulating that Nike’s design group may even be interested in hosting a workshop for its creative team. But you didn’t hear that from us.
Interest in typography has recently hit a high-water mark. Memberships in design groups like Chicago’s own STA “The Society of Typographic Arts” seem to be on the rise. And as you can tell, typography is even in their name. The art of placing type in meaningful and communicative ways into layouts is the very thing that makes most of us design professionals. Who else can FEEL the white-space between the letter “W” and the letter “A”, when inappropriately un-kerned? Past this initial interest, there seems to be a trend toward hand-rendered type and, most fortunately for The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, an interest in what existed before computers — before the mac ruled our world.
The Museum is quickly becoming the centerpiece of Two Rivers and will shortly unseat the ice cream sundae as a reason to stop in for a visit. Its future seems a little brighter than it did in the documentary and we hope its star continues to rise. With continuing support from its volunteers, the printing community and designers worldwide we can be sure it does.
For those of you lucky enough to live near the museum, what are you waiting for? Go go go! And for those who would like to go, but may be overseas themselves, they’ve recently opened a shop on etsy where you can buy one of their limited-edition prints. It’s worth the visit, and although more people are starting to notice it, it still seems to be one of the surprising hidden design destinations you can see before it get’s too big.
We also invite those who have been here to post a little something about their experiences at the museum. Just use the form at the end of this article. We also ask that you feel free to correct us if we got any facts mixed-up in our post here — after all, I’m really just an Art Director not a Journalist.
A full link round-up is available at the bottom of this post — after the images.
(Click on the images to get a full description of what you are looking at).
This Wednesday, August 11th, at 8PM CST, DesignChat welcomes the universally-respected creative director, typographer and design advocate, Erik Spiekermann to the conversation. Original designer of typefaces like ITC Officina, Unit, and even Meta— called one of the most successful humanist sans serif typefaces of the previous decade. (The Helvetica of the 90’s?).
Spiekermann has lead the industry with game-changing innovations like FontShop — the first independent digital font distributor — started in 1989 with Neville Brody and wife Joan Spiekermann.
He also founded Germany’s largest design firm MetaDesign in 1979, branching it to London, Berlin and San Francisco. His work there included way-finding projects for the Düsseldorf Airport as well as identity and brand-image projects for internationally-known companies like Audi, Volkswagen, Lexus and Heidelberg Printing. In 2001 he left MetaDesign and is now a partner in Edenspiekermann with offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, London and San Francisco.
On any given day you might find his likeness providing color commentary on fonts in movies like Helvetica…. or even advising the members of the European Union in matters of design. It’s a long way from “…redrawing old hot metal faces from the Berthold library, back in the 70s.” (Responsible for the original modernization of fonts LoType and Berliner Grotesk.)
With his book “Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works” in its second edition and a list of international associations and board memberships and too long to type, we know he’s one of the sharpest design-minds out there.
There’s so much to this guest that we feel inadequate to cover it completely; so, please…
Join us, and Erik Speikermann, this Wednesday at 8pm CST here at http://designchat.info/chat for a live video and text chat.
We feel honored to have him and hope to see you there too.
Additional Interview From the DVD version of Helvetica
This year’s theme “Print <3 Digital” seemed to be a comment on how print artists are not really at odds with digital mediums but instead are embracing the tools given to them by the technology. We only spotted one instance of print vs. digital in the space, and noted that students and organizers carried the theme through the gallery, hallways and gathering areas.
Although not busted-up by the police as it was in 2007, according to this post on ChicagoPoetry.com, it still had a vague feeling of subversiveness and an edge most hope to get when dealing with us creative types. Some said “The people watching at the Ball was awesome…” and we could not agree more. A selection of performance artists roamed the floor as literature-seeking hipsters picked through the stacks of free paperback books and magazines placed throughout the Center for Book & Paper Arts.
We arrived about an hour into the event, missing many of the free hand-outs and readings listed on the schedule, but still found enough to keep us occupied until the After-Party bus started to bring the Ballers (we can call them that that right?) to Reggies, another Chicago-area-hot-spot, for more music and fun. Unfortunately for us, the drive back to the burbs of Chicago prevented us from attending that part of the event. If you went, we’d love to hear how that part of the night/morning went as well.
Highlights for us included the “Copy Jam!” installation by Printeresting.org and our first-time watching The Show ’n Tell Show — a growing, and well produced, talk show featuring the Chicago design community, normally held at Schubas. In full disclosure I’d also like to point out that The Show ‘n Tell show is actually sponsored by our good friends at the STA.
We commissioned some instant poetry, drank free beverages, and picked-up some serious swag. We also regretfully skipped the second floor where printmaking and papermaking demonstrations were set-up. We hear there were some really great broadsides by the Chicago Printers Guild. Also missed by our group was the official poster by Sonnenzimmer that I hoped to pick up and add to my collection.
Overall, it was a great experience for us and I’ll be trying to get a larger group of DesignChat participants to go with us when it happens again in 2011. Check out the images below for a bit of the experience.
If you have any other press, articles, opinions or thoughts about the Chicago 2010 Printers Ball, please share them in our comments section. We want to hear about your experiences too!
The poem we had commissioned, by Barbara Perry (please correct us if we got your name wrong): Snow Falcon. Wings spread disappears bright slap of cloud, shatters of French window lording its form over trees, titmice, lightening struck oaks... wait it’s a card in a deck of exotic animals and its flipside says sharp sense of appetite. And it's true a Snow Falcon can see a baby rat 500 yards away. Like you who sees the title of a book that you’ve been looking for. For years.
A few more links about Printers’ Ball
(Please leave yours in the comments below).
This Wednesday, July 28th, DesignChat welcomes Illustrator & Graphic Design Professional Kate Bingaman-Burt — Author of “Obsessive Consumption” and Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University.
Bingaman-Burt’s career continues to light-up the DIY, twee-style, & craftism movements with sometimes colorful, but always beautifully-simple, illustrations — illustrations that really capture the feelings behind each image, whether that be guilt, envy, greed or sometimes lust. Think school notebooks full of lovingly-drawn spontaneous sketches. It’s a movement captured by her pen and embodied by current cultural touchstones like “etsy.com“, “Renegade Craft fair” and “ReadyMade” magazine; a magazine for whom she’s created several headers and titles in her recognizable style.
She continues to teach Graphic Design as an Assistant Professor at Portland State University as she shows her work with artist representation. Her illustration and much of her Obsessive Consumption works are available through 20×200.com an endeavor that’s “making art available for everyone” — worth a look for affordable contemporary artwork you CAN afford.
Most importantly, Kate Bingaman-Burt seems to be living and documenting her life as a statement about consumerism. Not really preaching about it, but instead just observing her own consumerism and taking us along for the ride. Screen printing, education efforts, illustrations, zine workshops, and soon-to-be museum exhibits, all seem to hold a mirror up to society. Bingaman-Burt truly embodies the quote “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
Join us, and Kate Bingaman-Burt, this Wednesday at 7pm CST here at http://designchat.info/chat, for a live video and text chat.
We’re already “obsessing” over what to talk about first.
This Wednesday, July 21st, we welcome Robert Kiraz, head of VOKLE, entrepreneur and CEO. Join us as we learn about the experiences of “an entrepreneur launching during the worst recession in known history” and his VOKLE video & text chat platform — The one we use on our show!
Kiraz leads a team that “…wants to give everyone a custom video conference,” according to this article on a site called The Next Web Apps. If the platform DesignChat’s been testing out is any indication of things to come, it will be, and already is a great new tool for bloggers, journalists and social media discussion leaders.
The VOKLE team, that includes Robert’s brother Shant (reachable via their active twitter handle @vokle ), have included a few distinguishing features for those who wish to create their own live broadcasts. These include the ability to take questions from the audience via video or text message, as well as the ability to include a support staff of screeners and editors, making for a professional and seamless experience.
It’s speculation on our part, but we think Robert’s education from the University of Southern California focusing on the Cinematic Arts has really helped him and his team craft a system that feels… well… cinematic. We also think this background in cinema helps him easily grasp the video aspect of social media that’s only just begun to blossom.
Kiraz understands that it’s the audience interaction that makes content greater.
“…the Internet is nothing but a giant pastrami sandwich. If content is the deli meat, our voices and opinions are the delicious french bread that blankets it. Communication —word-of-mouth, takes said content to a higher level..” (as stated on his personal tumblr page).
It’s that thought combined with “why doesn’t someone create a proper video communication platform already, so we don’t need to sit here and read pages of punchlines and actually speak to one another?” that really got VOKLE going.
On Wednesday July 21, we hope to talk to him about all this and more. We’ll do our best to explore the work he’s done in the past, his collaboration with creative minds like Illustrator Erick Oh (see this video created for VOKLE called either “communicate” or “hello”) and where Kiraz sees this “…pastrami sandwich…” going in the near and distant future.