TYPO to San Francisco

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News | David Sudweeks | February 6, 2012

A story’s been quietly developing out of our San Francisco office over the past few months. Meghan Arnold and Michael Pieracci, our respective communications director and logistics man have steadily laid the groundwork and made way for the arrival of TYPO, Europe’s premier design conference, to our city. As April approaches and we enter the next phase of publicity and preparations, the two continue to work steadily at creating time and space for meaningful personal connections and the coming together of a community.

Michael and Meghan’s planning began with a few central ideas and questions. How to translate a conference aesthetic; Who best represents Bay Area design culture, and how to incorporate them and their work? They have since selected a theme and written the first words of introduction to it, landed the venue, hired an intern, set up audio/video, gone through the selections of caterers, managed airfare and hotel accommodations, solicited a volunteer staff, and of course, lined up speakers for the event. I sat down with the two of them recently to find out what the work’s been like.

Meghan Arnold | “It’s been exciting, and personally really interesting working with some of the icons of international design culture.”

Michael Pieracci | “Organizing the logistics behind a conference, I’ve discovered, taps into my own ways of being creative; in making an experience for our speakers and our attendees.”


Audience views Dale Herigstad’s talk at TYPO London 2011. © 2011 kassnerfoto.de


TYPO San Francisco 2012 Main Stage; Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

One aspect of incorporating local culture plays off the contrasts between San Francisco and Berlin; the one being tight, the other loose. Michael continues, “We’ve tried to create a very casual atmosphere here where conference attendees feel comfortable getting up and going for a walk, dropping in on a workshop, grabbing a drink or meeting and talking in the halls.”

Their efforts have not gone unaided. Advised by UX and brand designer Robin Richmond, who last year organized TYPO London, and Benno Rudolf in Berlin, who led and directed all the preceding years’ TYPO conferences, the two have handled the difficult tasks and maneuvered around the pitfalls of conference planning gracefully. Considerable help has also come from the backing of the conference’s facilitators, Erik Spiekermann and Kali Nikitas. Kali chairs the Communication Arts department at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, and works as a designer, educator and curator of graphic design work. Erik is of course a co-founder of FontShop, a type and graphic designer, strategic planner and businessman.


Erik Spiekermann and Neville Brody onstage at TYPO London 2011. Photo courtesy of FontFont

TYPO San Francisco’s confirmed speakers include design observer and Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, Pixar storyteller Michael B. Johnson, internationally recognized multiple media designer Neville Brody, the newly-local letterer and illustrator Jessica Hische, FontFeed’s own Yves Peters, designer and educator Juliette Bellocq, and local type and nameplate designer Jim Parkinson. It’s been real work, but Michael and Meghan describe the process of lining up speakers as very fulfilling. Reaching out to the international design community they’ve so far gotten a tremendous response, and representing local culture they’ve found nothing but speakers of the same caliber. Check the complete speaker list for the most up to date information on who’s speaking.

And I’ll be there—helping with workshops, like Damon Styer’s signpainting workshop, and making friends.

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1 Comment:

  1. hi!
    I’m excited to be attending TYPO in April…the line-up looks amazing. I’m a faculty member in graphic design at City College in SF, and I have a very enthusiastic group of students who would love to volunteer to help out with the conference. Is this possible? Please let me know…thanks!

    Posted by Lorraine Leber on Feb. 7, 2012

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