Blog: The future of type

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Blog: The future of type
Thank you to everybody who has participated in the #FutureOfType? discussion via email, Twitter, and those who came along to the evening discussion/workshop at the St Bride Library.

This has turned out to be a big conversation with a range of themes that we are going to continue to explore in more detail. Please sign up to the #FutureOfType? mailing list if you would like updates.


Constant or becoming obsolete?

Will type remain a constant as it has for centuries, or will written words ultimately become obsolete as technology and globalisation progress?

Long live physical print
There has been a resurgence in letterpress, independent type foundries are appearing and an Adana press is back in production in Japan. Whether this is a new trend or a final swansong remains to be seen.

Web fonts and a digital type revolution
The new availability of web fonts has given web designers creative opportunities previously only available to print designers. Concerns have been raised that this could lead to both poorly designed type and ‘bad design’, but if we look to history we see that major developments have come from these times of experimentation.

From convergence to evolution
We are currently in a period of convergence, when the flexibility of web typography has caught up with print and there is a no longer a differentiation between the two. But is this limiting web type to imitating print, and will the next stage in type evolution be when it is redesigned for the on screen environment?

3D printing
Meanwhile as 3D printing becomes more accessible it brings opportunities for type ranging from creating new letterpress letters to 3D type.

Technological change & responsibility
The speed of technological change is phenomenal. The web became mobile six years ago, tablets were launched in 2010 and it is already predicted that most reading will be done on a tablet within two years. If this is the case then we have a responsibility to avoid returning to a situation where only those who can afford it have access to the written word.

Responsive type
Type layout is becoming liquid and responsive type technology is developing. Responsive type offers exciting possibilities, from giving author/user the opportunity to personalise their experience, to the experiments being done in which functions like the built in camera prompt on screen type to respond to the physical environment.

Tables turning?
Much design on the web to date has been led by print design. As web design and typography go through a period of evolution and break away it will be interesting to see how this influences physical print design. Will the tables turn and we find that web design is leading the way?

More to come…
We will be posting more on this topic, showing the results of the creative workshop and talking to experts from different backgrounds. It would make a great one day conference – if anybody is interested in hosting this please get in touch with Sarah at

Contributors to the hand drawn Twitter feed: Andreja Brulc, Anna Lincoln, Becky Chilcott, Celeste Morton, Isabelle Kesausko, Jess Cooper, John Kay, Kim Sharp, Miho Aishima, Nicola Yuen, Rachel Marsh, Sarah Hyndman, Syd Hausmann, Vicki Minchener, Vikki Frost, Zoe Chan


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