“A good printer must be a nice type to make a fine impression”
TIPIdiTIPI – Stampatori di Carattere was my thesis project at the Master of Science in Product Service System Design at Politecnico di Milano. Marta Bernstein followed me as Supervisor Professor.
The project is about the growing interest in rescuing pre-digital materials and printing techniques which is already diffused abroad and is now spreading in Italy; it is a reverse trend for reworking and keeping some aspects of traditional typography alive.
This is happening thanks to the efforts of small and local businesses such as private presses, type designers and associations: this operation fits in the contemporary scenario because it gives added value to typographic design and spreads knowledge about a small universe which is now distant, yet its technical and theorical contribute is still extremely valuable for who is working in the communication field. This Italian revival of letterpress is a niche activity which is quite challenging for the involved because of the costs and the complexity of recovering the materials. Typography related activities are often self-organized and born from the efforts of designers and printers: in most of the cases they don’t have any support from the institutions and they have to spend and work hard to gain visibility. Only recently Typography has started to be seen as valuable artistic heritage: this is a slow process and recovering and organizing the material is often a race against time.
Creating a service that fulfills printers and typographers’ needs is the goal of my research, and they become its main users: connecting these graphic laboratories, share their discoveries, promote and economically maintain their activity.
Typographers and printers are directly involved in the design activity, and Service Design methods and tools support in communicating and designing with them. The output is a dedicated digital service that narrows the distance between these realities and the institutions, advertise them abroad and at the same time ease their activity in Italy: a web platform where technical, material and procedural resources are indexed and structured; where a collective specimen of the typefaces is available, where events and workshops are promoted and fundraising is enhanced thanks to the institutions and external associations. The main service users are then the graphic workshops, individuals and private presses involved, but the service would also be captivating for a range of secondary users: non experts or amateurs that are fascinated by typography, visual designers that have to deal with typography for their projects. The service offers them an overview of the letterpress scene in Italy, gives them the opportunity to subscribe to events or simply contact the printers. The project is mainly focused on the web but it also has physical touch-points: the service is therefore an attempt to integrate the strongly physical reality of contemporary letterpress with the web and its new possibilities, a vehicle for giving value to typography related resources finding for them the right place in a contemporary context.
Tipi di Tipi is a wordplay and tongue twister: it literally means in Italian “Types of types”.The payoff is “Stampatori di carattere”, printers with character, which has been inspired by the joke of the Italian designer Bruno Munari: “Per fare una buona impressione un bravo stampatore deve avere un ottimo carattere ” that could be translated in “A good printer must be a nice type to make a fine impression ”. The logotype have been printed with existing typefaces from the Anonima Impressori sets, that are coming from Emilia Romagna and Piemonte typographies and have been used during the 60s and 70s.