27 October 2010
Beatrice Warde lecture
Sébastien Morlighem’s gripping tale of Excoffon and the Fonderie Olive.
Tuesday night: to Bridewell Hall at the St Bride Library for the annual Beatrice Warde lecture, this year given by Sébastien
Morlighem on ‘Researching Excoffon and the Fonderie Olive: Type as document.’
It’s Roger Excoffon’s centenary year and Morlighem is on a campaign to restore Excoffon to his rightful place in the history of graphic design. It seems that even in his own country, the man responsible for the Air France logo and that most popular French display font Mistral has fallen from favour, while fonts such as Antique Olive, Banco and Calypso have always had a Gallic air that didn’t play too well among the grid-obsessed designers of 1960s Europe.
But maybe Excoffon’s time has come … certainly two of the world’s leading type designers sitting in last night’s audience seemed to be paying close attention.
Morlighem’s gripping story was one of discovering archives and liberating original drawings from dusty boxes. Along the way, he’s unravelled the relationship between Excoffon and the Marseille-based foundry of Marcel Olive that in the postwar period challenged the dominance of the great Parisian foundry of Deberny & Peignot with fonts such as Excoffon’s Nord and Vendome, Olive’s answer to Garamond, designed by François Ganeau under the guiding eye of Excoffon.
The book about Excoffon and Olive by Morlighem, Sandra Chamaret and Julien Gineste is published by Ypsilon later this week (spreads above and cover below). Order your copy at the publisher’s site ypsilonediteur.
You can also ‘like’ Ypsilon-Éditeur on Facebook.
Matt Soar wrote about Mistral in ‘Excoffon’s autograph’ in Eye 54, Winter 2004.
The next event at St Bride is ‘Letterpress: Forward Thinking’ on 19 November, details stbride.org/events.
Eye magazine is available from all good design bookshops and at the online Eye shop, where you can order subscriptions, single issues and back issues. The Autumn issue, Eye 77, is on its way to subscribers right now.
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