This year’s TYPO Berlin motto “Touch” – referring to the fact that design has the function of touching (shocking, uplifting ...) people in order to make an impact. Design should make brands attractive and make people feel they would like to touch them, to have them around. Today, it is often digital surfaces which constitute the contact between object and user, or better: between a brand and the fans of a brand. It’s about creating fans, not users, as Simon Manchipp (SomeOne, UK) put it in his lecture.
It was all about touchpoints, in any sense of the word. TYPO Touch was dedicated to the touching aspects of design – consequently embracing topics like identity strategies, digital projects, service design and brand environment design, creating brand experience via unusual methods, thoughts and tools (the speakers used a wide variety of presentation tools — electronic drums, synthesizers, punk songs, guitars — in fact, there was a lot of rock’n’roll going on! Even Jürgen Siebert gave his best impressison of Chuck-Berry!). Oh yes, typography in itself was part of it, like in any of our projects, but not a stand-alone.
Of course, the highlight of the conference for us at Edenspiekermann was our very own Harry Keller, who spoke on Thursday evening. The long queue outside a full-to-capacity TYPO Show room was an accurate indication that this talk was a popular one. The topic? “Daunting Digital: A Wake Up Call”.
“Don’t fear digital. Digital needs designers — .” This was the message Harry imparted on the audience, with a wry sense of humour, often prompting laugh-aloud moments while still conveying invaluable advice to the audience. My personal favourite: After showing a photograph of an old-fashioned 70’s-style furnished room as visual analogy for print design, Harry invited the audience to guess what image he would use to visualise digital (“perhaps a futuristic spaceship?”). The actual image? An ugly, disorganised construction site — “Digital NEEDS designers!”.
Given the large student attendance at this year’s conference, it was surprising to get a sense of how few were engaged in digital work. At one point, Harry asked the audience “So, how many people here have a Twitter account?”. The response was surprising — I would guess less than 10% of the audience raised their hands. And we can probably assume that if the 90% don’t have a Twitter account, it’s unlikely that they are working in the digital design. So, did this mean the talk on digital was a hard sell? It seemed not. Harry’s easy and witty presentation style engaged the room and one could sense the young audience was inspired.
By the end of the talk, when Harry stepped into a very practical “So, what do you do now?” segment, giving advice on the best resources for budding digital recruits, almost the entire audience produced every manner of digital device capable of taking a photo — iPhones, iPads and even old school cameras — to capture the presentation slides displayed. Perhaps this was the most telling moment of how much the talk connected with the audience.
So, is digital still daunting? Perhaps. But after this talk, the fear seemed a lot more manageable.
Harry in an interview with Polish design magazine 2+3d (caught by Achim Klapp).
Other pictures: A. Blumhoff