Autumn 2021

Editorial Eye 102

Last September, Eye held an online Type Tuesday to preview this special issue, featuring Thomas Huot-Marchand (France), Laura Meseguer (Spain) and November (India). During the event, US type expert Tal Leming entered the chat to pose a question: did all the splendid work on display demonstrate that we are in ‘a new golden age of type design in which … anything is creatively and technically possible?’

As you will see in these pages, there are so many possibilities for contemporary designers and typographers, that some are inclined to look back wistfully at an age when constraints and obstacles were seen as essential to unlocking creativity. The type designs of the Italian Nebiolo foundry demonstrate this, in a way, with spectacularly functional and beautiful type families made late in the age of metal.

‘Typographics 21’ imposed a decisive ‘constraint’ by excluding North America and most of Europe from its ten-session conference. The format encouraged individuals from the rest of the world to introduce their type, letters and writing systems to a professional audience that wished to engage with design beyond the western traditions in which many of us have been taught. Sure, it was just a few dozen designers over twenty or so hours, but this online conference, smartly organised by New York’s Cooper Union with simultaneous translations, was an inspiring initiative with an ambition to open up our type and design scenes to less familiar traditions, new narratives and future possibilities. Maybe the next ‘golden age of type’ lies in all the new scripts, glyphs and languages we are just starting to acknowledge.

Joe Caroff made some of the past century’s most resonant typographic icons, yet his name is hardly known – evidence that there are still many more graphic design stories to be told, whether from far away or close to home.

Umbra by Alicia Márquez, Thala base, 8 × 8 inches, 2018. More in ‘Typographics 21: Session 8’.

John L. Walters, editor of Eye, London

First published in Eye no. 102 vol. 26, 2021

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.