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Type Design Week

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Type Design Week

ISIA Urbino Type Design Week 2015
with Fred Smeijers and Eric Kindel
Period: July 20–24, 2015
Deadline: May 29

About the school
ISIA Type Design Week is a one week intensive summer course in type design and lettering held at the ISIA – the High Institute for Applied Arts of Urbino. Since 2009 ISIA has been running a graphic summer school organised by Leonardo Sonnoli in collaboration with the Dutch Werkplaats Typografie, and in 2011 Type Design Week was introduced to expand the school’s summer programme.


Every year I organise the school for the ISIA. Along with a team of teachers who vary from year to year, The Type Design Week invites a world-renowned practitioner and educator to design the school program and together we lead the course. Quite often additional guests are invited to complement the offer with specially crafted lectures that inspire the participants and offer a refreshing break from the studio work.

So far, the school’s teachers have included Bruno Maag, Eric van Blokland and Fred Smeijers.

This year, Fred Smeijers will be back in Urbino with a new programme, Eric Kindel from the University of Reading will join the team offering great insights on stencil fonts and their practice in history, and, together with me, Riccardo Olocco will also be part of the teaching team.

About the town
Urbino is a Renaissance town located in the Marche region not far from the Adriatic coast. It is a World Heritage Site notable for a remarkable legacy of independent culture, especially under the patronage of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino in the 15th Century. The town hosts the University of Urbino founded in 1506. Home of Raffaello and Bramante, its best known architectural piece is the Palazzo Ducale built by Luciano Laurana. More recently, Urbino was also home to the architect Giancarlo De Carlo, who in the 1960s designed several interventions in the historic city centre, resulting in great examples of modern architecture.


In Fine Arts and Graphic Design Urbino has a long tradition. The School of the Book was founded in 1861 to later become a specialised High School for Fine Arts. In 1962 the CSAG – the current ISIA — was founded as a High School for Graphic Arts, which soon become a leading school within the Italian graphic design panorama.

ISIA Urbino Typedesign week 2014
For the last edition Fred Smeijers proposed that the participants, both beginners and more experienced designers, developed a whole set of lowercase letters in five days. What sounded like a mission impossible could be achieved due to the use of a unique approach to designing type, that Fred had developed over his career as a designer and teacher.

After an introductory lecture and some practical demonstration, Fred invited the students to develop few stencil modules to use as basis to start designing letters, beginning with letters i, n and d. From these, the students set to develop as many letters as possible by exploring the combined used of the same modules. Adding a few more modules it was possible to expand the character set by including letters such as a, c, e, r. Letters b, g, l, m, p, q, u were the results of turning and flipping the stencils to get the right shapes.

After composing o and spending a bit more time on the usual suspect, s, it was time to start working with oblique strokes, which proved to be quite a challenge for many. Then we moved into font editing software to redraw the letters and add the few ones missing. These five days intense days were further enriched by Fred holding a series of lectures about stencils and the drawing of letters.

Not only type…
Urbino is also well-known for being part of what the New York Times recently called the ‘Marcheshire’: historical and cultural heritage, gorgeous nature, beautiful landscape and high quality food (Remember, this is one of the best spots in Italy for truffles). Quite a few good reasons then, beside type, to start planning your visit. Running a type review while eating your crescia sfogliata with pecorino cheese is quite an experience! The intimate atmosphere of the school offers a great chance to work and to discuss your projects and your approach together with renowned practitioners and educators from around the world… all in front of a glass of Verdicchio.

If this sounds like the thing for you, do no hesitate to send in your application. You can find additional information online.

Jonathan Pierini

Slanted is Media Partner of the ISIA Urbino Type Design Week 2015.
Photo credits: Corina Cotorobai

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