TYPO Berlin 2009 – Examining The Interactivity Of Space

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News | Yves Peters | June 2, 2009

I’d better keep going with my TYPO reports before I start to forget details. On the other hand I think the filter of time helps single out what was significant and remarkable in any given talk, as the less successful and/or interesting bits will quite naturally fade away in my memory. Let’s hope that the lack of completeness is made up by relevance – I wish. ;)

I arrived late at TYPO on Friday because I forgot about the announced problems with public transport due to the celebrations for the German federal republic’s 60th anniversary. By the time I had secured a translator gizmo and made my way to TYPO Hall Gesche Joost was already halfway through her talk. Yet even seeing only half of the presentation had me completely interested.

Gesche Joost | Research Rocks!


Gesche Joost © Gerhard Kassner
Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost‘s work in User Centered Design hinges on the definition of design research as formulated by Alain Findeli and Bruce Archer:

Design Research is a systematic search for and acquisition of knowledge related to general human ecology, considered from a designerly way of thinking.

The part of the talk I saw dealt with the work she did for Design Research Lab for “G”, a gender-specific mobile phone for women. Instead of just going the stereotypical “Shrink it and pink it”, women from 14 to 65 years old were invited to workshops in order to define the wants and needs of the target audience. All kinds of creative materials and tools were put at their disposal, and they were invited to build their idea of a perfect mobile phone. What kind of functionality was absolutely necessary? What should it look like? Saying, Reflecting, Making – these were the different phases in the work of researchers, experts and test subjects. After weeks of detailed work the resulting objects were analysed both in their implied functionally, and formally by shapes of elements used, by texture, by colours, and so on. The analyses yielded often surprising results and gave the designers new insights. As a side note, those results were rendered is some dashingly beautiful graphs.

At the end of her talk Gesche also showcased two neat conceptual functionalities that were recurring requests by the test subjects. One was a “Call myself” function which would have the owner of the phone pretend someone was calling her in order to discourage and fend off obtrusive men who try to approach her. The other was a “Delete myself” function allowing the owner of the phone to remotely erase her contact details in the phone of a potential stalker.

Rather than as a professor, Gesche came across as an impassioned student. She was bubbling with youthful enthusiasm, and didn’t need any showmanship to keep the audience captivated or elicit laughs from the audience. Again the translator did an excellent job, perfectly keeping pace and adding all the right nuances. Despite the fact that this was one of the more “academic” presentations it was very refreshing and easy to understand, and it just whizzed by. By the end of it we were all convinced that, yes, Gesche had the best job in the world.

Darren Bowles | Swisscom – Creating a Dynamic Identity


Moving Brands Summary Showreel on YouTube.

For his presentation Darren Bowles, Design Director at Moving Brands, was joined on stage by Daniel Severin, Creative Director in charge of Group Identity at Swisscom. The first part of his presentation had Darren go through a number of quite impressive projects that married beautiful design with fascinating user interaction and experience – two of the most impressive being the Gestural Table for London College of Fashion and the Sound Reactive Installation for Kef Muon.


LCF – Gestural table from Moving Brands on Vimeo.


Kef Muon – sound reactive installation from Moving Brands on Vimeo.

I think the initial plan for the second half was to have Daniel Severin do the talking, but after a mere couple of sentences Darren Bowles took over and Daniel was again relegated to thoughtful nodding throughout the remainder of the talk. The company-wide Swisscom identity program was very extensively explained, from initial brief to finished product. This was of course the most interesting part of the presentation, as we got to witness every little detail in the development of all aspects of the identity program, and it gave a revealing insight in the mechanics of such an extensive operation. It had something for everyone; for us typography buffs both the subtle retooling of the Swisscom word mark in TheSans by Bruno Maag of Dalton Maag and the corporate type family Thesis were highlighted. The three-dimensional nature of the logo was very much in keeping with the theme of Space, and it was fascinating to see how the revolving shapes were used to create artwork and other graphic elements which were then used in a multitude of applications.


Swisscom – Re-brand film from Moving Brands on Vimeo.

Although the presentation was a bit light on content in the first half, the second half more than made up for it. Darren Bowles came across as a quite “corporate” presenter, professional and purposeful. I couldn’t help but be constantly on my guard for marketingspeak and had my hot air meter at the ready, but Darren stayed well within acceptable range. And I still want to know what music they used to accompany their clips, because some of those tracks were just wikkid.
Header image: TYPO Hall audience © Gerhard Kassner

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2 Comments:

  1. Dull, uber dull. End of brand.

    Posted by Liam on Jun. 2, 2009
  2. i like that swisscom video. nice.

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Jun. 3, 2009

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