Geotypografika Interview 005: Verena Gerlach

Berlin (Type) Designer / Educator


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Verena Gerlach
(Type) Designer / Educator
Berlin, Germany

Geotypografika Interview 005 Verena Gerlach
What developments are you following in the world of graphic
design/typography today?

VG Technical: I’m fascinated by the possibilities of the still young OpenType technology. My next font (FF Chambers Sans) design will provide a lot of OpenType features. Design: The consciousness for refinement of typography seems to fade away due the increase in speed for the jobs.

What new developments are occurring specific to your location?
VG Subcultural statements and expressions like street art seem to becoming a serious part of commercial graphic design in Berlin. The graphic codes of former alternative designers are already used for the “high-end” design of big companies.

Given the astronomical growth (both current and especially projected) of the Indian and Chinese middle class/economies, how long before contemporary graphic design and typography finally recede from “Western” domination, and we see a new global vernacular arising? Or will we witness an inversion, where the dominant Eastern economies impose their visual vernacular?
VG I think that even with global graphic applications like Adobe, and even with the visual globalization of shopping centers, there will be a difference in how individual designers observe their surroundings. The differences will surely blur quite soon, but right now, the different cultures are still trained very differently, visually speaking.

Here in Berlin, there is still a big difference between the, for example, Turkish and German shop designs. I just have the impression, that the western cultures are sticking much more to their visual traditions, because they haven’t experienced any big changes within the last twenty years. My guess is, that the new commercial challenge in the eastern world is leap-frogging the idea of fusing tradition and future. From my perspective, this destroys a lot.

How do you see yourself (or your work) involved in the global state of graphic design? Do you try and address this, for example, by searching for a contemporary voice in your work?
VG I do try to combine the purity of German typography with contemporary influences from the subculture too. I guess it comes from the fact that I became used to and feel familiar with classic German typography, but just love to experiment with contemporary influences (that happen in front of my front door). The only thing I don’t do is use all these very trendy decorations in my work. For me, every element in a design needs a useful qualification. OK, there are some exceptions…

What avenues for research/global discussion do you regularly visit,
online or otherwise?

VG Under Consideration

Are you optimistic about the future?
VG Oh yes!

What are the most important elements/abilities for a young designer to master in today’s ultra-competitive world?
VG Be yourself and work hard on understanding integrated coherency.

Is teaching typography and graphic design even possible at a truly global scale?
How to account for an audience of this scale beyond the model of the
International Style, etc.?

VG I believe, that it is very important not to teach design based on an shared curriculum everywhere. It should start in primary school, where children are becoming exposed to societal issues, behavior, authority, etc… You can’t deny that this process heavily stamps their ideas of learning and expressing. So how can you suddenly teach all students from all cultures under the same curriculum? For me it is very important to maintain and project individual idiosyncrasies, and learn how to recognize your own culture in these differences of people.

Are you witnessing a migration of talent to the developing markets in the East?
VG Unfortunately, I am unable to judge this currently.

Multo grazie, Verena.

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