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TYPE IN USE

Next week is fashion week…for fonts

View of a metro sign in front the Galeries Lafayette department store with Christmas lights in Paris
Reuters/Charles Platiau
Learn about letters.
  • Anne Quito
By Anne Quito

Design and architecture reporter

Published

It’s been estimated that there are over half a million digital typefaces. Why are there so many fonts? How are they made? Who makes them?

As fundamental as fonts are, the enterprise of making digital typefaces remains a mystery to most. “Talking type” can often get so deep into the weeds as designers delve into the history, engineering, art, coding, commerce, and technical terminology of their craft.

But Font Fashion Week, a new festival, seeks to demystify font-making and “bring it to the streets,” as Nadine Chahine, CEO of the boutique type distributor I Love Typography, puts it.

The free online event will kick off April 4 features an international roster of speakers and design firms, including French type designer Jean François Porchez who will speak about developing fonts for the French department store chain, Galeries Lafayette; Bulgarian designer Plamen Motev and British advertising expert Emma Bitten on the branding of UK’s iconic Silverstone motor racing track; and Australian art director Wayne Thompson on the evolutions of sans serif fonts. Chahine, a Lebanese type designer with an international relations degree from the University of Cambridge, will speak about how the current geopolitical turmoil affects branding trends.

Fonts speak volumes

The broad goal of Font Fashion Week is to find a kind of parlance—or sales pitch—that’s understood by a wider audience, Chahine explains. Learning how fonts are developed, in theory, helps users think beyond mere aesthetics when choosing from the thousands of available digital typefaces today. And for independent type foundries, the festival offers a way to market their typefaces as solutions to concrete communication challenges.

“In a world where everyone is fast becoming an amateur designer, there is great potential in telling the stories behind typefaces and showing off their great expressive power to people across all age groups and backgrounds,” Chahine says.

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