Sarah's take on: What Lies Beneath by Dalton Maag - Typography Talk

Find out what Sarah thought of the talk we attended last night: What Lies Beneath – A Typography Talk by Dalton Maag

What Lies Beneath – A Typography Talk by Dalton Maag

Last night Kath and I ventured over to Cardiff Met Llandaff campus to attend a talk by Dalton Maag. For those of you who are unaware of Dalton Maag, they are a company that work with global clients such as Intel, Lush and Nokia to create custom typefaces designs that are supported across multiple languages (according to Typekit, as many as 50 different languages!). To say that this talk was mind blowing simply would not be enough. As Kath and I sat there, we were intrigued by the work they do to create one typeface and astounded by just how many characters and instances they need to design for. I think most people take this kind of thing for granted, now that we are in a world where typefaces are available by the click of a button.

A bit of history

Dalton Maag’s chairman, Bruno Maag injected a lot of scientific insight into how we read, where type began and why typography is so important. I walked away having learnt so much in such a small space of time about type and what really goes into designing a typeface. The little gem of knowledge that 55-65 characters is the perfect line length in a paragraph and that using a font at a larger size doesn’t necessarily make it easier for a person to read. Instead of increasing font size, what designers should be doing is choosing the typeface much more carefully and ensuring that its legibility and the way it reads is intuitive and easy. There was also the slightly depressing knowledge that type was invented simply for the purposes of taxes! (typical, eh?)

An insight into the process

The creative director Tom Foley then described the process they go through at Dalton Maag, one which has many facets and requires a lot of hard work. Kath and I learnt a lot about kerning, spacing, hinting and what’s included in character sets for typefaces. I was really interested to learn about how file size can be saved on typefaces by combining accents with existing letters to create a new character in the set without there actually needing to be one.

Insightful & beautiful

The typeface I found really interesting had to be the one they created for the brand Lush. This handcrafted and handwritten typeface had so many small details that made it so beautiful. The fact that the typeface requires coding to tell it to change one set of characters for a different set that have been specifically designed to be used next to one another. Or that it can tell if the same combinations have been used in two lines of text where they appear above or below each other, and will swap them out for another variation of those letters to really give it that handwritten feel.

Dalton Maag

The work they do at Dalton Maag has so many small but massively important details. It was truly fascinating to learn about. I could go on forever, but I will stop there. This kind of work is so intricate and I would say people take that for granted, I’m sorry to say that included me prior to this talk. I will no longer see type in the same way; I will appreciate it so much more. Thank you to Bruno and Tom for such an insightful talk, and thank you to Dalton Maag for the beautiful typefaces. I’ve been admiring the type sheet giveaway ever since – so beautiful!

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