Wednesday, June 6, 2007
ELLICE: "Die Neue Typography" (1920- 30's)
Jan Tschichold was the son of a provincial sign-writer, and was trained in calligraphy. This artisan background and calligraphic training set him apart from almost all other noted typographers of the time. Most other artists and designers had predominantly trained in architecture or fine arts.
Tschichold's artisan background may help explain why he never worked with handmade papers and custom fonts as many typographers did. Instead he preferred to use stock fonts and placed more emphasis on arrangement than on artistry. Tschichold believed that the cure for typography lay in abandoning the rules, adopting symmetrical setting, and the exclusive use of sans serif typefaces with no relation at all to handwriting.
An announcement for Tschichold's book Die neue Typographie (1928; “The New Typography”) explains and illustrates his own philosophy. He promoted functional design elements that use the most direct means possible. He favoured non-centered design (e.g., on title pages), and included many other Modernist design rules. His book presented clear explanations of the effective use of emphasized contrast of type sizes, widths, and weights. He explained that making use of the white spaces and intervals as design elements were necessary to separate and organize typographic content and page structure.
His rules of typography were just as passionately adopted by some as they were rejected by others. The fist positive effect came a few years later when the lavish ornaments and outdated typefaces disappeared and centered typesetting began to be abandoned. Basically Tschichold set out to teach other designers that
“We no longer read quietly line by line, but glance quickly over the whole, and only if our interest is awakened do we study it in detail.”