Is the Type Directors Club on a retro trip?

Hope Sans – The Type Directors Club Typeface Design Competition Winner. I’m aware that calling it a “retro trip” may be controversial. After all, virtually all typeface designs in this century are replays of what previously existed, in one form or another.

Why do you think the TDC chose this Swash-heavy typeface as a winnner? Do you find it odd or justified, in this day and age? What are your thoughts?

https://www.monotype.com/resources/font-stories/meet-hope-sans-a-type-directors-club-typeface-design-competition-winner/

Comments

  • I don't see the problem. Whether a particular style is better than another is highly subjective, so I assume they look mostly at execution and originality.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,154
    Judges make judgement calls based on how what they see in the candidates at that moment in time. It is human judgement, not some greater power.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,539
    Frankly the entire city of NY has been on a retro trip for many years. Failing to let go of its 20th century glory. Failing to emerge into the 21st.

    In our field there is no stronger indication of this than the Typographics conference. Especially in its presentation, if also its content to a lesser extent.
  • edited March 8
    I tried to make my post as neutral as possible, but admittedly, “retro trip” could be interpreted with negative associations. What I’m interested in, or curious about, is the relationship between current trends in type design and retrospective outlook. We have all the tools we could ever wish for, more possibilities and abilities than we ever had before in type design’s history. And what we’re doing with it, mainly, is looking back.
    Now, I am not proposing to reinvent the alphabet and I don’t intend to start a discussion about unique letter shapes. We all know this would probably be fruitless.
    What I’m interested in are your thoughts on retrospective versus progressive trends. I believe both can be there in type design and I am curious what you regard as progressive and what as conservative, and where retro or trendy fits into this all.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,539
    edited March 8
    “retro trip” could be interpreted with negative associations.
    That "could be" is an under-statement.  :-)
    Now, I am not proposing to reinvent the alphabet and I don’t intend to start a discussion about unique letter shapes. We all know this would probably be fruitless.
    Not only not fruitless, but inevitable.
    Hence something to guide, not shun, lest the headless chicken gets run over.
    What I’m interested in are your thoughts on retrospective versus progressive trends. I believe both can be there in type design and I am curious what you regard as progressive and what as conservative, and where retro or trendy fits into this all.
    That's a good angle.

    Different strokes for different folks... live and let live... and yet it remains possibly –in fact to me a duty– to point out what benefits society at large, versus merely individuals turned on by something gone. Design, versus mere Art.

    To me nostalgia is sometimes a way to escape negative feelings, sometimes a way to manipulate the gullible. Culturally, it's inebriation.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,154
    To me the retro vs. progressive question is only answered by the people who design type.  Some people do it because of their interest in historic forms and their search for those accepted by enduring time. Other designers prefer to push form to different places [not to reinvent alphabets but to present existing alphabets in modern forms].  Designing type for the sake of type is different than designing type for profit and market success.  The desire for Market success may push a designer to presume what the market wants more than what the designer wants to produce.  My guess is that it works both ways.  Buyers choose from what they see, be it new or old.  If we produce more old than new, the odds are the public will choose from what is available for any reason.
    Personally, I prefer to push the boundaries rather than reproduce what has already been done. Other designers are free to design whatever they choose with no judgement from me.
  • edited March 9
    Recently I had a discussion with someone about formatting. They were talking about it in reference to text processors and Web design. Most people are unaware of the historic connections between typesetting, typography, newspapers, magazines and modern-day formatting of text in all kinds of media. Which is fine – most people are not type designers.
    My discussion partner didn’t think of formatting as “a format”, the application of how text is presented, but as styling. In my perception, formatting is both, structure and styling, but many people don’t make that distinction, probably because you get away using fonts without making that distinction.
    Many people I know don’t know how to use a text processor to structure content properly, they are using bold instead of title formats. And yet they are using Word every day. They don’t know that in Web design, H1, H2, H3 and so on, are structural elements, like lists, like footnotes, they are used to present content (and a lot of that stems from academic paper formatting).
    In context of this discussion, I think one could make this distinction also in type design: the format being the structure of a letter shape (or its use in context with other glyphs and within a typographic application), and the styling being the expression, the interpretation of that letter shape. As with text formatting, the intersections between integral structure and styling are fluid, because you can, of course, change the styling to a degree that the structure of the underlying shape, the skeleton that makes a letter, becomes unrecognisable.
    I could be wrong, but I think we all work along this model, consciously or not when we’re designing typefaces. And I think looking back and picking up the style of a certain era (the sixties and seventies in the example of the awarded font) is a celebration in expression (the designer was obviously fond of this style).
    The question I have, also for myself, is, could it be possible to go in the opposite direction and, without reinventing the wheel, trying out new directions that may find some inspirations from the past, but are not simply replicating it?
    Again, I am not saying replicating the experience of a Garamond or a Didone is not worth exploring. (There have been plenty of discussions about this in this forum and elsewhere.) We live in a great era in type design where there are more fonts released than ever before, many of high quality and diversity. Naturally, a lot of them are just replicating classic genre styles.
    To some degree, I see designers already experimenting and trying out new shapes which seem to be inspired by past trends, yet they appear somewhat fresh. And many of these exercises don’t seem to hold appeal for a sustainable application – many won’t survive the test of time.
    Trends I have observed in the past two years or so are explorations of using ink gaps excessively, as a form of expression and styling, as well as ultra black serif fonts. All these are more found in the display section, but sometimes these stylistic trends make it into text font families…
  • Andrew WoodAndrew Wood Posts: 42
    Type will eat itself.
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