New faces: type design in the first decade of device-independent digital typesetting (1987-1997)

King, Emily (1999) New faces: type design in the first decade of device-independent digital typesetting (1987-1997). (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis presents a survey of type design during the period 1987 to 1997, the decade after the widespread adoption of device-independent digital type design and typesetting software. Prompted by technological innovation, this study explores the ways in which the new technologies of type have changed type design practice. Throughout this text there is an emphasis on the cultural and economic circumstances of type design; the examination of the influence of technology on design practice is reconciled with the recognition of the broader context of that practice. Each of the four chapters that make up the body of this thesis concentrates on the design of type within a specific geographical region: The West and East Coasts of America, London and the.Netherlands. All of these locations are proposed as centres of significant contemporary type design activity. Dealing with these regions in series of distinct chapters, it is suggested that the practice of type design is not uniform across the globe, but is, in part, a product of local culture. While it is acknowledged that digital communications technologies are most likely to be used to promote globalisation, within this thesis the emphasis is on the ways in which those technologies allow the pursuit of the small-scale and the local. This thesis is original in scope; the subject of digital type design has been explored within dissertations written by graphic design students as part of undergraduate or graduate design degrees, but there has been no other sustained research into the subject at this level. Equally it is original in nature; drawing not only from the models of typographic history, but also from those of design history and cultural studies, this thesis stands apart from the body of writing that already exists on the subject. It is hoped that this text will contribute to the understanding of recent type design practice and will also indicate new paths of research into type design and typography.

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