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TYPO Berlin 2018: insights and takeaways

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Berlin, what a city! It's been 10-years since my last visit, and this year I had the opportunity to enjoy this European capital while attending one of the most awaited typography conferences in Europe, TYPO Berlin 2018.

This year the theme was a very interesting, Trigger, dedicated to transformation, disruption, and radical shifts in the design industry.


I’ve known since last December I was going to attend TYPO Berlin (thanks to Smashing Magazine for the gift!).

Having just enjoyed 3 amazing days in Cologne, sharing knowledge and pictures with the vibrant Joomla! community at J and Beyond 2018, I arrived in Berlin fully energised and raring to go, despite an unfortunate train cancellation.

I was super ready. While on the train from Cologne to Berlin I browsed the program and created a list of all the talks and workshops I wanted to attend.

Typo18 Calendar


First day
Between branding and typography experiments

The civic city in a nomadic world
by Charles Landry

Charled Landry at Typo18

Charles Landry, a well-known speaker and city advisor, opened the first day with an impressive talk. It was an interesting reflection on the transformations many cities are experiencing due to globalisation, widespread Internet, data movement, nomadic lifestyles, and crossing cultures.


  • Cities need to build and create to accommodate the ‘movement’ of culture, goods, people, and places.
  • A city should be planned to empower people to be the best version of themselves.
  • Cities need to take account of technology: the ‘app revolution’ started by Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook, teaches us about sharing more than owning.
  • City planning as meditation.
  • Create city identities able to build bridges between heritage and creativity, between differentiation and inclusiveness.

Watch the talk



The letter in my head. How design influences reading
by Antonia M. Cornelius


Antonia M. Cornelius at Typo18

I really loved Antonia M. Cornelius’ talk. It was a trip back through time to the basics of typography, when it was treated as a science. In this digital era, where variable fonts are becoming a trendy buzzword, you will be surprised to learn that despite the way written text has changed, the way the eye sees, reads, and process typefaces hasn't changed much at all.


  • When using typography, consider 4 important aspects: perceptibility, detectability, legibility, and readability.
  • Typography has an incredible impact on the speed of reading.
  • Understand how the brain works and how different parts of the brain are activated to create new connections, reinforcing new associations.
  • Don't forget typography creates emotional bonds with the reader.
  • Not all typefaces look nice in different languages.

Watch the talk (in German)



Designer as Filmmaker
by Briar Levit

Briar Levit at Typo18


Briar Levit is the author of a great documentary, Graphic Means, which was screened during the second day of Typo Berlin. I missed the documentary, but I loved Briar’s honest talk about how difficult it was to step out from her role as a graphic designer and embrace different areas of knowledge to create a narrative flow that could work.


  • Challenge yourself and step out your comfort zone to work with people who know more than you.
  • Ignorance is bliss (if you use it as an opportunity to learn more).
  • Graphic designers can be storytellers with the help of a bunch of people who can transform the story into a visual miracle.
  • Making movies is exhausting :)

Watch the talk

by Jonathan Hitchen and Sam Meech


Tricotype at Typo18


I was already excited about this talk before book designer, Jonathan Hitchen, and digital artist, Sam Meech, stepped on the stage. In fact, I am currently following a project here on the island on Syros with a similar subject, and this talk was enlightening and inspired me, opening up new possibilities.

Ever since I founded The Pattern Tales, I have explored the idea of new patterns. I thought my love for typography and motifs had found the perfect representation in the work of Jonathan and Sam.


  • A new way to explore and understand typography through the use of Jacquard cards and a knitting machine.
  • Patterns and typography can create amazing things together.
  • Create a pulsating community around a nice idea.


Persil: The Evolution of an Icon
by Katrin Niesen and Armin Angerer

Katrin Niesen and Armin Angerer at Typo18

It’s interesting to see behind the scenes of big companies and how they deal with famous and iconic brands. Persil is currently the representation of purity and cleanliness. These values are not universal, they can be interpreted differently by various cultures.

Katrin Niesen and Armin from the Peter Schmidt Group presented a very interesting case study, full of insights and great advice for building multicultural, iconic brands.


  • A brand icon is flexible and permanent.
  • When creating something new for an old brand, respect what it represents (the icon) and its history.
  • Create rules to follow.
  • Don't forget to be brave, even if continuity is your main goal.
  • Don't fall in love with your idea: you risk damaging the consistency of a brand.

Watch the talk