Having explained my ten rules of typography (the list is below, but the details remain a closely guarded secret of Karlskrona students), I talked a little about my own work, which you can view at www.williamhall.co.uk
Our projects include corporate identity, website design, and restaurant graphics, but we mostly work on book design. Our book projects include a catalogue for Calvin Klein, a cookbook for Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli, and catalogues for artists such as Robert Ryman, Michael Landy, and Barbara Hepworth.
The Design Process
When we design a book the initial layout is presented to the client in the form of a 'blad' (an acronym for Book Layout And Design), and this is what I asked the students to present. A blad is usually an 8 or 12 page booklet designed to give as clear a picture of the final book as possible.
The blad shows the proposed size, paper, layout, typography, and the treatment of images. We demonstrate how different types of page will look, such as a chapter opener, or a main text page. This is usually accompanied by a book dummy which is the correct size and has the correct paper and number of pages, but is totally blank. (see below the hand made blad for Giorgio Locatelli, the dummy, and the finished book)
The blad is used to discuss the design and possible alterations before the entire book is laid out. It is often also used to take to a book fair (usually Frankfurt) where publishers show book stockists and other trade buyers their forthcoming books.
We would usually have 2 or 3 weeks for this process. Hyper Island students had less than a day, which makes their contributions all the more impressive.
Hyper Island Book Project
The brief was to design a layout for a bilingual architectural book featuring either Andrea Palladio, Le Corbusier, John Pawson, or Zaha Hadid.
The page size had to be 12 x 17cm, and I asked for two spreads, and a cover if time permitted. I wanted the students to interpret the work of their chosen architect and communicate this in a direct or indirect way as they saw fit.
The students were asked to present and defend their work in front of the class, using a webcam to show their printed blads. The results were incredibly varied.
Although most used western alphabets, Arabic, Japanese, and Cyrillic were also used, providing their own technical and interpretative issues. As each design was unveiled we discussed its various merits and drawbacks, and sometimes even the work of the architects: 'I actually hate everything about this architect...' said one.
Amongst the most successful work were Stephanie Lindgren's John Pawson, which used much white space and a short rule to give the book an identity and a strong framework, and Rebecca Berg-Olsson's design for the same architect. Berg-Olsson cleverly started her English and Japanese texts from opposite ends of the book, subverting notional protocols of book design. Andreas Fernhede Dagman's design for Le Corbusier had clean lines and a strong typographic cover.
Johannes Mathisson chose Zaha Hadid and set the companion language in Russian. Responding to Hadid's angular, sculptural constructions, the design uses confident diagonal paragraphs to create a fresh, dynamic and useable layout.
Claes Källarsson broke one of the rules of the brief - as he had been encouraged to do - and chose an architect not listed in the American deconstructivist Frank Gehry. Källarsson's sinuous columns echo Gehry's architecture in both a figurative and a conceptual way, and the two greys used to denote the different languages seem to invoke the metallic folds of Gehry's Guggenheim Museum.
Aina Cecilie Ørebech's Zaha Hadid focused on Hadid's deconstructivist credentials, literally deconstructing the text into concrete poetry and making rorschach type patterns with a monospaced utilitarian font. Perhaps the most challenging design presented, it was also one of the most successful.
In a spirit of solidarity I also answered my own brief, choosing Zaha Hadid and interweaving the two languages with double linespaced columns. Though vigourously defended this was widely panned by suddenly vociferous classmates.
William Hall, London, December 2007
William Hall's Ten Typographic Rules
1. Consider the user and use
2. Choose an appropriate font
3. Use as few fonts as possible
4. Don’t distort type
5. Make black stripes: kerning and tracking
6. Make black stripes: hyphenation and justification
7. Make black stripes: leading and baseline grid
8. Be consistent
9. Separate text and image
10. There are no rules