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26. September 2019

Bruno Maag  im Interview

Im Alltag begegnen uns seine Schriftzeichen überall: ob Netflix, Facebook oder BBC – Bruno Maag und sein Typeface Designstudio Dalton Maag entwickeln Schriften für Brands, die jeder kennt. Auch die Schrift, die auf jedem Amazon Kindle zu lesen ist, stammt aus seiner Feder. Besonders charakteristisch für Bruno und sein Team ist vor allem die Liebe zum Detail.

Im Interview lässt uns Bruno Maag wissen, was sich in Zeiten von Instagram und den neuen Technologien im Bereich der Typografie am stärksten verändert hat. Erfahrt außerdem von Bruno, worauf er den weltweiten Erfolg von Dalton Maag zurückführt.

Moving along the path from typesetter to typographer: What has changed the most over the course of your career in this field?

I finished my apprenticeship as a typesetter in 1982, and five years later the profession no longer existed. Within that short space of time, the entire industry had been revolutionized by desktop publishing. In the first ten to fifteen years of Dalton Maag (until around 2005) our work was primarily designed for print environments and was mostly targeted at professional designers, who mainly worked with Apple Macintosh computers. Our first almost exclusively ‘screen’ project was the multilingual typeface family we designed for Nokia, called Nokia Pure.

Today, nearly 30 years since I founded Dalton Maag, digital displays dominate the environments our typefaces are seen in, and print has been almost completely relegated. On the surface, this change may sound as if it has made our work easier, but it is quite the contrary. When designing for print, I had a fair amount of control over how the typeface would behave and look when used. With digital type, we hardly have any control over the display of the typeface because we cannot predict the device, the resolution and the software that the font will be used on. So, I would say the loss of control over how our fonts are used is probably the biggest shift I have experienced in my career.

What is the role of typography or design in a time where people are overflooded with information?

It is important to remember that we are designers – we are not artists. Our job is different from that of an artist; our job is to analyse information, organise information and present information in an artistic way. In that way, both typography and design can absolutely improve the daily functions of everyone.

Having said that, we live in a world of social media, from Twitter’s very limited functionality, to Instagram which is pictorially led. In many cases, the control over how the information is displayed has been taken out of the professional designers’ hands. The influence we can have is largely dependent on the media, and how much it allows the originator to design content.

The control over how the information is displayed has been taken out of the professional designers’ hands

Dalton Maag’s customers are mostly from the industry. Was Instagram ever an essential communication tool to reach these stakeholders?

We have only recently added Instagram as a communication tool, alongside Facebook and Twitter. We try to maintain synergy across all three channels by making visuals as coherent as possible. However, social media is mainly a communication channel to create awareness, and to occasionally show what we have been doing. As far as I can remember, social media has never been a main factor for winning business.

I think we also need to remember that social media preferences change from country to country, and from audience to audience. For example, in Brazil there seems to be a preference for using Facebook as a communication tool, whilst in the UK, both Twitter and Instagram are used heavily. We also need to understand age groups. An older audience probably has a different preference of communication channel to a younger audience, and wants to be engaged with in an entirely different way.

© Dalton Maag - ABB Voice
© Dalton Maag - Mokoko Typeface Review Session
© Dalton Maag - Mokoko Typeface
© Dalton Maag - BBC Reith
© Dalton Maag - USA Today Unify

Why is Dalton Maag so successful?

When I first started the business in 1991 there was no social media, and certainly no Instagram. In order to generate business, I had to call and visit people; I had to build trust and relationships. Today, 28 years later, I find nothing has changed. Instagram and other social media channels are simply additional tools to communicate what we do and who we are, but they do not replace personal contact. Nor should they.

I think our success is due to how we do business, with honesty and integrity and with fair pricing that reflects the high quality of our work and services. Although we are the typography experts, we believe in collaboration with all stakeholders in our client’s organisation, and truly think that by integrating the client and their requirements into our thought processes, we can build trusting relationships and of course ensure that our work and services exactly meet the client’s expectations. This is something we have done for years, and it serves us well.

What impact does Instagram have on the aesthetics that are developing? What impact does industry have on design and designers?

Social media is an inherently visual universe, which gives professional designers and non-professionals an equal opportunity to create and share design. Brands also have an opportunity to create visual consistency across all of these channels, using Instagram to speak to customers in a new way through visual content. But to do that well requires exactly what I said at the beginning: we need to analyse information, organise it, and present the information artistically.

Instagram of course has the power to affect aesthetics, but only temporarily, and within it the flow of these aesthetics will change on a regular basis, as do all trends.

For designers, Instagram and similar are simply the digital extension of what we have been doing for centuries.

In times of social media and voice-based services: How do texts change? 

Spoken language is a living organism that continuously mutates and evolves. English or German in a hundred years from now will be different, and we may even find it hard to understand. Whilst digital technologies have certainly created an opportunity for voice based services, and possibly created enhanced accessibility, written language by means of typefaces and typography will continue to exist.
Written language is much more formal than spoken language and is dependent on agreed grammar and syntax to be successfully applied within a language area. Changes to the rules might happen only every two generations, with long transition periods during which old and new live side-by-side.

Has this an influence on the typeface design?

Texts will definitely change, and it is possible that this will have an effect on how we design typefaces. But there are still other factors that we need to consider. In the Western world, we have been using the Latin alphabet for the last 2,000 years without any substantial changes to the design of the characters. I think that vocal language has little impact on typeface design; instead I think we need a new revolutionary technology that breaks us free from the two-dimensions of typography as we have known it.

It is VR and MR that will affect type, with its possibilities to work in a 3D environment, and include the fourth dimension – time – also. I think kinetic type will be a far more influencing factor in how we design and read type in the future.

 

Mehr zu Bruno Maag gibt es am 13. November 2019 auf der ADC Design Experience in Stuttgart.

Mehr zu Dalton Maag, hier:

https://www.daltonmaag.com/

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