Roger Black kicked off the afternoon session with a presentation focusing on custom newspaper type. It basically was of the show-and-tell variety, but what he showed and what he told was captivating, as his examples were little-known to the European viewer.
Christian Schwartz’ Venetian oldstyle Houston in combination with Franklin Gothic for the Houston Chronicle In closing, he gave his thoughts about WPF font embedding. I followed his reasoning up to a point, but I don't think that papers will have serious competition from handheld devices and portable screens anytime soon, even if the type is more convincing and of a higher resolution. The limited surface and impossibility to do fast browsing “by hand” continue to make those less practical in usage.
Next up was Mark Porter, who steered the focus away from pure type and shed a fascinating light on the mechanics of a major newspaper redesign: the redesign of The Guardian. He took us on an engrossing trip from the very first decision for the overhaul to the actual first edition in the new format on Monday, September 12th 2005. This gargantuan task concerned every single aspect of newspaper production, including evaluating the editorial style and having new printing presses built in half the time it normally would take. Also having to abandon the legendary Hillman design proved to be very daunting, it being acknowledged as the most important piece of newspaper design in 30 years.
Following up on Mark Porter, Paul Barnes and Christian Schwartz zoomed in and examined the development of the new typefaces. Just like Mark Porter’s, this presentation was fraught with plot twists. When the management decided in 2003 to shrink The Guardian to Berliner size, the original plan was to adapt the existing design of the paper to this new size. Paul Barnes commissioned Christian Schwartz to design a revival of Neue Haas Grotesk that would be more faithful than the Helvetica they had been using. Work on Guardian Grotesk was started in December 2003.
Guardian Grotesk Black with below Neue Helvetica 95 Black As the project evolved into a complete overhaul of the newspaper, the type design followed suit. The plan to design an elegant serif family called Hacienda (originally Stockholm) to be used alongside the Haas Grotesk was abandoned when creative editor Mark Porter asked for a completely new sans. At the end of August 2004 four and a half months worth of typeface development was shelved and it was back to the drawing board for Barnes and Schwartz.
Hacienda, the abandoned serif, named after the famous Manchester club and label. Trying out a new approach, Barnes wanted to see what would happen if he designed an Egyptian then trimmed off the serifs to get to the sans. The Egyptian would only act as an intermediary stage between the serif and the sans, but never be used in The Guardian. Surprisingly, it eventually turned out to be everyone’s favourite for both headlines and text. As the Egyptian and its companion sans needed to provide ultimate flexibility, a large number of weights were designed. Also, because the new printing presses would be only be ready after the deadline, four grades were produced so they could decide which ones to use after having seen the type printed on the actual paper.
Guardian Egyptian With just over 200 fonts, the Guardian family is one of the most ambitious custom type programs ever commissioned by a newspaper. Work on the superfamily was started at the end of August 2004, and final Egyptian (Display, Condensed & Text), Sans (Display & Text) and Agate were finished at the end of May 2005, a little over three months prior to the relaunch.
Guardian Egyptian Black Italic The epic tale of both The Guardian redesign and the development of the Guardian type family felt like a thriller, a true suspense story where everyone in the audience realised failure was a very real possibility. With every new stage and every decision made, new problems would arise and need to be solved. This made for a gripping presentation, punctuated with moments of exhilaration when yet another hurdle had successfully been taken. The fact that the focus was both on the type and on the complete project was very refreshing. Another highlight of the conference.
Gerard Unger closed off the presentations of this session in his own inimitable style. Calmly sitting behind his desk, he showed us various samples of newspaper designs using specific typefaces, commenting on the appropriateness and aesthetics of the typeface choices. Pointing out unexpected but successful applications of book faces in newspaper design, he proved by example that one should never have preconceived notions about which typefaces can or can’t be used in a newspaper environment.
Gerard Unger’s own Swift as used in Trouw Gerard Unger’s presentation was quite a subdued affair, but it was very interesting and enjoyable thanks to his understated wit, his affability and his vast knowledge. Him almost apologising whenever one of his own creations was shown was pretty funny, considering the sheer amount of publications his faces appear in. This was a perfect example of how one can make a great presentation by simply showing well chosen slides and being knowledgeable.
Free newspaper Metro features a custom version of Luc(as) de Groot’s Corpid
I didn’t stick around for the panel discussion, so I can’t tell anything about that.
After attending both Friday’s and Saturday’s afternoon sessions, I'd like to conclude that this new approach of thematic sessions worked remarkably well. They contrasted nicely with the “open” morning session, and added some variety and a new sense of purpose to the proceedings.
That night the 50th anniversary edition of the traditional Gala Dinner was held at the beautiful Casa do Alentejo. The aperitif was served in the atrium, dinner in the ballroom on the first floor. Although the ballroom was in not a perfect shame, this was a splendid location.