TYPO Berlin 2018: 5 Questions With Program Director Jürgen Siebert


TYPO Berlin 2018

TYPO Berlin, Europe’s biggest design conference, is almost here. Running from May 17-19, this year’s event will build on last year’s inaugural “Brand Talks”—a dozen short content-rich presentations by brands and agencies. They proved so successful that TYPO organizer Monotype, one of the world’s best-known font houses and providers of typefaces, kicked off a “Brand Day” roadshow in October.

While the focus of TYPO Berlin will remain visual communication and digital transformation, this year’s Brand Talks is almost a conference within a conference. There will be 12 new brand case studies and presenters, include Volkswagen, during TYPO, which has the theme of “Trigger”—more on that below—with some Brand Talks taking place on the big stage.

“After the overwhelming response last year, it immediately became clear that we had to open up the Brand Talks for more visitors, so we will have some Brand Talks on the first and third day of TYPO,” said conference director Jürgen Siebert.

“This year’s motto ‘Trigger’ will be reflected in the Brand Talks, because the digital transformation of brands follows a control loop model rather than a master plan.” So what is ‘Trigger’ all about?

TYPO Berlin 2018 Trigger

TYPO Berlin will be about the practice of change, about scenarios, about heroes and evaluation. It will be about big data and personal data. And the digital home. Do we really want one? The transparent consumer has long since become a reality. But some consumers have already begun covering their digital tracks. Trigger

Triggering is everywhere, whether driven by human or artificial intelligence. It can come with deception (fake news) and with revelations (fact-checking). It can trigger a personal recommendation or automated purchasing suggestion. A trigger is a key stimulus, a filter and an impulse.

TYPO 2018 will explore the mechanisms of the digital transformation. And it will address the role of design in that process. It will challenge skills, methods and tools. So—after mobile-first and AI-first—how about people-first? Follow the debate. In Berlin. House of World Cultures. May 17–19. Trigger!

Siebert shared more of what’s new this year in a Q&A:

TYPO is such as well-oiled machine; how do you keep it dynamic, fresh and relevant so each year it’s fostering great conversations, insights and connections for your participants and the greater design community?

Jurgen Siebert / Monotype / TYPO BerlinI believe that it is essential for every organizer to regularly question his own event. We have been doing this since the first TYPO Berlin, which took place in 1995. Additionally we have a unique advantage: Since Monotype is not “just another” conference organizer, but the owner of the conference—with both feet in our own industry—we can constantly adapt our event to modern business challenges so that we’re sharing content and solutions that are relevant and interesting for our audience. With that in mind, we are building exactly the type of conference we would like to visit ourselves, which is an example of our customer-driven approach.

TYPO Berlin

What are the themes and hot topics/debates you’ll be highlighting this year?

We’ll be covering a wide variety of topics, but there will be a focus on the digital transformation and new technological challenges for the font industry. For example, we’ll talk about AR/VR and flexible display technologies in the fields of automotive and education. Our theme in 2018 is Trigger, a keyword that summarizes the continuous bridge-building between the century-old rules of readability and their elegant continuation in the digital area.

What do you feel is the responsibility of TYPO as a forum to reflect what’s going on in the culture—especially in these politically-charged times?

As our conference traditionally revolves around visual communication, political and cultural topics are always present. I mean, one thing is obvious without us having to prove it: Never before has written communication been so popular—never before so fast, and never so democratic, positive and negative side effects included. Against the backdrop of the current political and cultural climate, one thing stands out, in my eyes: Brands need to be well-trained to maintain the trust of their fans. Brand communication may be less complicated than political communication, but I think brands can learn some lessons: Listen, speak to your fans, be transparent.

How are you working to make TYPO reflect the times in terms of diversity—gender, racial, age—so it’s inclusive and you’re opening the doors to as many different points of view and perspectives as you can?

We are very proud to tackle these issues again in 2018. Just let me highlight 3 speakers:
· Jon Key, art director, designer and writer from Brooklyn, who currently serves as a contributing art director to The Tenth magazine, a black, queer arts and culture magazine; he will talk about design as a means to amplify and empower communities.
· Photographer and art director Rita Braz from Lisbon is constantly inspired by diversity under her own brand Q Revolt. Her recent exhibition, “You can’t be what you can’t see” aims to encourage women to explore themselves and their sexuality with no boundaries.
· Timothy Goodman, the designer and illustrator from New York. I love his “12 Kinds of Kindness” project with Jessica Walsh. This series of 12 steps illustrates a way to become kinder, more empathetic people; as a resolution, they practiced this for 12 months.

Finally, our brand new Talent Talks, a conference-in-conference talks format, curated and moderated by Kali Nikitas from the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Talent Talks is a breeding ground for innovative new ideas and design concepts. Hailing from Antwerp, Berlin, Copenhagen, Ghent, Los Angeles, Montreal, Oslo and Rotterdam, the youngsters presenting will each take 30 minutes to discuss their way of working and share their success stories. The common ground for all the presenters: fearlessness!

TYPO Berlin conference

How do you keep the conversations and connections going year-round, and does technology help on that front?

We develop the communication before and after TYPO with two joint forces: our editorial team, with about 30 people, and our digital channels, like the TYPO Talks Blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This three days in Berlin generate tons of valuable content, that we distribute as open and broadly as possible: talks, videos, quotes, summaries, essays, interviews, photographs and much more. Our hashtag #typo18 is the magic key to all that valuable and free content.

In terms of networking and creating opportunities, what’s your advice to attendees (esp. for recent graduates and students who may feel nervous or that they don’t have the experience/authority yet as they’re just starting their careers) for how to get the most of attending TYPO?

Don’t let yourselves be struck by the overabundance of lectures. Choose one of our four keywords that suits best to your interests—Branding, Inspiration, Know-how or Typography—and use the color coding in TYPO’s program guide. And please: Network. Our experience has shown that a dialogue on the fringes of the conference might be more valuable than an impressive talk. As the organizer I can only say: It is exactly these unforeseeable moments that make us proud. Even if we cannot plan them, we create the environment for it.

TYPO Berlin 2018 is taking place from May 17–19. Click here for information.

Get more branding insights in our Q&A series. Suggest a Q&A by emailing editor@brandchannel.com.