Why have you developped an interest for typograpy ?As a child, I loved art. I also developed an interest in writing and language. Typography is where the two come together.
You were the curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center for Design & Typography. What is exactly this institution ?
I was curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center from 1985 to 1992. It is a gallery and collection at The Cooper Union, a school of art, architecture, and engineering in New York City. I am now Curator of Contemporary Design at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, also in New York City. This is the only museum in the U.S. Devoted exclusively to historical and contemporary design. I create exhibitions, publications, and public programs.
As an educator, on which aspect of design you put a special emphasis ?
I emphasize design as living practice—not theoretical debates, but doing work in the studio. I emphasize the public, communications value of design not inward personal expression.
Students often do too much “design.” By this, I mean that they make a page complicated and busy with drop shadows, gradients, transparent boxes, and the like, because there is not a strong idea or they are not interested in the content that needs to be communicated. I argue that it is there job to make the message interesting and compelling, not to bury it with empty visual gestures.
My galaxy of web sites includes the following: my personal web site, which is a “storefront” for my ideas, ELupton.com (formerly www.DesignWritingResearch.org); my blog, Design-Your-Life.org, about design and everyday life; and two Web sites about my books, ThinkingWithType.com and DIYKids.org. I believe every book and project should have its own Web site.
Grids are central to our writing system itself, which consists of rows of letters arranged into columns. It is important for designers to understand the grid as both an “invisible” tool that is embedded into our writing and software systems and as an a theoretical device that can be used with great deliberation.
I started using Scala in the early 1990s, when Robin Kinross brought it to my attention and we used it in a small book called “Graphic Design from the Netherlands: A View of Recent Work.” I have used it ever since. I love its mix of geometry and humanism. I love the crisp serif and big x-height.
What the web has brought to the typographic art ?
The Web has helped us think again about systems and about the dream of universal communication. CSS and Web standards are powerful social and theoretical tools. Just when we thought all the rules had disappeared, we have new rules that have a tremendous social purpose.
Related page: Thinking with type page in Books/Typo