Talking type

Last week I attended the Melbourne AGideas conference, the annual design inspiration event held in Melbourne where local designers and designers from around the world come to talk design. The event runs over 3 days and for those that can’t afford the time the Australian Graphics Design Association (AGDA) presents one of the speakers for it’s members to experience.

Tobias Frere-Jones, one half of the type designers Hoefler & Frere-Jones ( was the guest speaker for this year. True to the expected demure persona of a type designer who spends his time tweaking, finessing and fussing over the minute detail of type design, Tobias shuffled onto stage and immediately began talking type.

It’s lovely to see a type designer talk type – it feels liberating – how many of us designers have tried to talk type design to clients and friends to only see their eyes roll to the back of their heads – here we got to indulge in the passion that drives type designers and to discover where they draw their inspiration for the expression they put to their typefaces.

Tobias discussed the inspiration behind 2 of their typefaces – probably their most know and commercially successful sanserif typeface Gotham, initially designed for GQ magazine, and the slab serif typeface Archer, designed for the Martha Stewart Living magazine.



Here both Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones talk about Gotham – almost verbatim, though he did elaborate further in his speech!.


here they talk about Helvetica and thoughts on type design:

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