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169: Fonts for a Connected World with Typotheque's Peter Bil'ak and Kevin King

For the first time in almost 170 episodes, I recorded live with guests in the same room, which was a completely new, different and exciting experience. The episode you’re about to hear was recorded live at RGD’s DesignThinkers Toronto 2023 conference soon after our guests, Peter Bil’ak and Kevin King, gave a talk entitled ‘What is Good Design and can Typography have a Positive Impact on Society?’. I had a wonderful time speaking with two minds who blend technical, creative, and human connectedness brilliantly and I sincerely thank them for sitting down with me for the conversation you’re about to hear.

In this episode you’ll learn about the Netherlands-based type design company, Typotheque, and you’ll hear from two of its team members (Peter and Kevin) and the way they work with language and give shape to language. You’ll also hear a lot about the North American Indigenous Syllabics Project and the book that Typotheque recently published, celebrating the rich linguistic and typographic diversity of Indigenous languages in North America. You’ll hear a high level overview of the syllabic writing system used by many First Nations and Inuit communities, as well as the way that type is an important part of the visual culture. You’ll better understand the ways that traditional tools influence shapes of letterforms and how Kevin got started drawing syllabic forms for his work with Indigenous type revitalization and perseveration.

Finally, you’ll learn how cognitive psychologists work on the Typotheque team to inform typeface design, including a recent typeface release from Typotheque (called ‘Dash’) and its scientific origins. I gained so much from this conversation and I hope you will too.

This episode was recorded live at DesignThinkers Toronto 2023 as part of a guest lecture series in GCM 230 - Typography in Fall 2023 at The Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Let's listen in...

Some links that might be helpful as well that we mentioned during the converation:

Photo Credit: Eric Forest, RGD DesignThinkers Toronto 2023

Photo Credit: Eric Forest, RGD DesignThinkers Toronto 2023

About Our Guests:

Peter Biľak works in the field of editorial, graphic, and type design. In 1999 he started Typotheque type foundry, in 2000, together with Stuart Bailey he co-founded art & design journal Dot Dot Dot, in 2012 he started Works That Work, a magazine of unexpected creativity, in 2015 together with Andrej Krátky he co-founded, a font rental platform. He collaborates with the choreographer Lukas Timulak on creation of modern dance performances, and together they started, a foundation for interdisciplinary artistic collaborations. Peter is teaching at the Type & Media, postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague. Member of AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale).

Kevin King is a typeface designer, typographer, calligrapher, and type researcher based in Canada. After working at Toronto’s Coach House Press and Canada Type, he completed his Master’s degree in Typeface Design with distinction at the University of Reading in 2018. His work focuses on font support and research for minority languages, working directly with Indigenous communities in North America to support their language revitalization and preservation efforts. Through his work collaborating with Typotheque, he has contributed to reforming the text standardisation for the Unified Canadian Syllabics in the Unicode Standard through character additions and representative glyph revisions. In conjunction with his type design work, he maintains a calligraphy practice, teaching workshops and lecturing on both subjects in Canada and Europe.

Music: A Little Shade by HoliznaCC0, Licensed Under CC0 1.0 Universal

Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle

Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash

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