Brief bit of the Book Fair

Posted on 16 October 2008 in:

Last night I went to the TDC Exhibition opening at the Frankfurt Book Fair. A ginormous annual shindig that has been running since at least Gutenberg’s day, the Frankfurt Book Fair is the German print design event of the year. As has often been the case in the recent past, Mainz’s Hermann Schmidt publishers sponsored this small show of this year’s TDC prize-winning work. If you wanted to see this, you could enter the Book Fair for free after 5:30pm last night. What a deal! After about 6pm, most stands started shutting down for the evening, but the free glimpse was good enough anyway.

This exhibit opening is always a must see, because designers from all over the Rhein–Main region drop by (it being one of the Book Fair’s only free events and such). The show itself is open for the rest of the Book Fair, and it located inside an oversized white cubicle in Hall 4.1, where you’ll find all of the Fair’s art and design books. I heard a rumor that Germany’s on-again off-again SPD chairman Franz Müntefering was in the stand next to the TDC’s as the exhibit opened, but I did not get the chance to cut through the crowd and verify this. Too bad that he didn’t come over to the show, either.

The Fair will be open for several more days. Today and tomorrow are limited to professional visitors, I believe. Over the weekend, anyone may purchase an entry ticket. Type blog coverage about the Fair is starting to trickle in. Naturally Jürgen Siebert has a Fontblog post filled with wit and images. Peter Reichard has put together a hit-list of design booths to visit for his FAKD students.

Since I was only at the Fair last night for a few hours, what I can report on is quite limited. However, here are my tidbits:

From Verena Gerlach's blog

A few days ago, Verena Gerlach e-mailed me about two new books she recently designed for Hantje Cantz. I found their stand in Hall 4.1, and had a look at both books. The first, pictured above, is just typographically mouthwatering. Verena’s treatment of Erwin Blumenfeld is divine. The book’s text is set in Viceroy, a serifless roman that she created together with another brilliant Berlin type designer, Andrea Tinnes. Headlines and the like employ On the book’s cover is Christian Schwartz’s elegant Giorgio. This book is a big coffee table monolith. But judging from the dada imagery, I’ll bet that it is a thrilling read, too.

Another image from Verena Gerlach's blog

The other book I saw that Verena recently finished designing is on Mies van der Rohe. I have to say that this book is way more up my alley than the Blumenfeld tome, even though the I prefer her typesetting in Viceroy and Giorgio to the Univers 45 used in Mies und das neue Wohnen. I’m sure that Univers is fitting here, though. Judge for yourself on Verena’s blog.

A short distance away from Hantje Cantz is the Hermann Schmidt publisher’s stand. They are certainly the top address for German-language typography books, and I ran to the stand before the exhibit opening to get a first glimpse at two of their newest releases. The first is Andreas Koop’s book about the “corporate identity” of the Nazi party (NSCI). I must admit that I got shivers when I read about this in their catalog a few days ago. However, the book is not (as it is sort of billed) the NSDAP corporate ID manual, but rather a thorough description of how the Nazis used many different graphic elements to establish and perpetuate their image. It offers a design-related glimpse into this period, and certain tables are quite illuminating, especially one in the back tracking the use of various typefaces used by the party; not just the blackletter ones, but all the other major styles, too.

The other item on my must-see list was Lars Harmsen and Raban Ruddigkeit’s Typodarium. This is a little desk calendar, one of those that lets you rip out a new page for each of the 365 days of the year. Each page is devoted to a different typeface, and their is information from each designer printed on the back. I was one of about 50 designers invited to participate in this project, and am thrilled to have half a dozen pages of mine scattered throughout the year. Above is a sample of one of my pages, January 4th set in Mountain. I also have Morris Sans and Martel in there, too; one day in November is completely set in Hindi.

My last bit to report is a new issue of Slanted, hot off the presses. This is issue number six, and it deserves a full post of its own. I’ll get on this as soon as I have my own computer again to edit images with. Needless to say, the Slanted team down in Karlsruhe as raised the bar for type magazines yet again. It was thrilling to meet up with Flo Gaertner and Julia Rausch from the editorial team and get my own advance copy! Stay tuned for more…