I’m not sure whether being a typophile is a condition, an addiction or an obsession. Whatever it is, Flow’s managing director, Tiffany Turkington, and I have had a serious case of it for many years. Since 2005, we have been involved in promoting good typography through the International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD) student assessment scheme.
It’s a real labour of love that entails coordinating and judging student submissions from design institutions all over South Africa.
The way the programme works is that the ISTD puts out a set of wonderfully challenging briefs every year and final-year design students across the world submit their typographically focused solutions for evaluation.
The South African student work all comes in to be evaluated by a panel of experts overseen by Tiffany, who is the South African education officer. All marks have to be approved by a judging panel in the United Kingdom to ensure that the ISTD’s notoriously high standards are maintained.
Our Flow designers love the fact that submissions are received at our Flow offices, as they get to see the quality and scope of the work, which revitalises their creative spirits. It’s important for us to stay in touch with fresh, young design, to see what trends are emerging and which topics cutting-edge designers are addressing.
We found this year’s work not wildly expressive, but contained, earnest and carefully considered. Colour palettes were noticeably muted and there was a lot of use of quite classical type – interpreted in creative new ways. Understandably, the brief that required designers to “rewrite women into history” was particularly popular and held topical appeal for the students.
It is such a privilege and treat to be involved in the scheme and every year we look forward to seeing the students’ work, because it reflects the very best of what South African communication design schools are capable of.
At this level, we really do produce world-class design, which bodes well for the future of the industry. And for the benefit of type, as we stand witness to the birth of the next generation of typophiles, long may their affliction last!