Announcing: ATypI Working Seminars

Ladislas Mandel at Reading 1976

Learning is at the heart of ATypI’s mission. We provide a space for research, practice, formal education, and life-long learning to come together and support our rapidly evolving field. Our annual conferences always involve local design schools, we have a large community of Country Delegates, and we endorse many events that promote the exchange of ideas among professionals, educators, and students.
In order to extend ATypI’s engagement with global audiences, we have decided to start a new series of annual Working Seminars, in addition to our main conference. We aim for each Working Seminar to focus on a topic that relates to education and its interfacing with professional, technological, and business aspects. This will underline the engagement of educators with other agents in the wider visual communication sphere, and develop opportunities for collaboration and growth.

The location and timing of each Working Seminar will provide a counterpoint to the main conference, and allow ATypI to have a stronger presence in regions that the main conference is not scheduled to visit, or has visited already. The Working Seminars will also enable the Association to develop its engagement with the local community of educators and professionals. This approach can develop a network with the aim of hosting the main event at a later time.

This is not a new initiative: in the 1970s and 1980s, when computers began to take over the typesetting world and typefaces migrated to optical and eventually digital formats, ATypI was at the centre of discussions about the impact of the new technologies on design. In addition to (and separately from) the annual conferences, ATypI hosted eight Working Seminars, in Basle (1974), Reading (1976), The Hague (1978), Mainz (1981), Stanford (1983), Hamburg (1985), Gdansk (1988), and Budapest (1992). These events were modest in scale, and structured so that attendees could engage and interact. They also left records behind, like the well-known Visible Language special issue of 1985, which drew on papers from the 1983 Stanford Working Seminar (which Ferdinand Ulrich recently wrote about in “From punch cutters to number crunchers”, in Eye 94).

We envisage a single-track, two-day event, with a cap on the number of participants, and a priority on seminars and workshops, rather than more formal lectures. There will be three objectives to the events:
community building: to promote interaction and active learning for all participants;
wider impact: to produce an online record of the proceedings that can be useful for other educators, professionals, and researchers; and
leanness: to make the event happen with the absolute minimum of expenditure, drawing on coordinated work by participants, local support, volunteers, and sponsorship in order to spare every possible expense.

We will expect every Working Seminar participant to contribute some knowledge, experience, or reflection. In return, we aim to provide a stimulating environment for transformative learning and community building.

Our first Working Seminar is scheduled for 22–23 March 2019, in Sri Lanka, in partnership with FARU (Faculty of Architecture Research Unit), University of Moratuwa, and Akuru Collective. If you are interested to be kept up to date with news and the event, and possibly take part, sign up for email updates below.

Gerry Leonidas, September 2018