The highly esteemed Japanese design magazine IDEA dedicated an issue to the career of Toshi Omagari with the theme “Typeface design for the voice of the world: The Works of Toshi Omagari”. Toshi graduated with Distinction from the MA Typeface Design in 2010–11, and went on to work for several years for Monotype. More recently he set up his own foundry, and is now also a visiting teacher in the Department.
Toshi’s work spans both original work and revivals, and extends to numerous scripts: he is particularly notable for his work in Asian scripts for which there has not been extensive coverage in digital typefaces. He is also the author of Arcade Game Typography, the definitive book on arcade game pixel fonts, as well as numerous plugins to support font development. His teaching in our Masters spans workflows, design feedback, and approaches to global script design.
Interested in the MA Communication Design? Join us at our Open Morning and discover our 4 pathways. Visit the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, chat with lecturers and current students, and get advice about how to apply.
Date: Tuesday 25 April 2023, 11am to 1:30pm (BST)
Where: Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading
After a welcome from Dr Ruth Blacksell, Department Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes, a presentation about the MA Communication Design will focus on our 4 pathway routes: Book Design, Information Design, Graphic Design, Typeface Design. This will be followed by a walk around the Department and a look into the studios. In a Show and Tell session, you will get a glimpse of our special collections. We will close the morning with a tour around our current Department exhibition.
In spring term, our MA Communication Design students on the Information Design and Graphic Design pathways have the opportunity to undertake a wayfinding project, as one of their project choices. We usually collaborate with partners in the Reading community (for example, last year we collaborated with The Hexagon) and arrange visits to local sites. The pandemic provided an opportunity to develop new resources for teaching this project.
Wayfinding briefs provide great opportunities for strategic and creative user-centred design. Students have to consider how visual design supports decision-making and user experience of environments, as well as consider the needs and expectations of different users and stakeholders. They also require students to explore the interplay between functional problem-solving and cultural relevance and how branding and identity systems might need to work across a range of different materials and surfaces.
Wayfinding designer, and Reading alum, Joan Zalacain (http://www.zalacain.com/) leads this project. Joan says: “The importance of user-centred design is crucial to wayfinding but we also need systems that are appealing and sit harmoniously within their environment. We strive to convey this to our students as wayfinding is a growing area of international practice and our graduates need to be ready to deliver their best.”
This year, factoring in the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on mobility, we developed a new brief to ensure students did not need to conduct any site visits to undertake the project. Joan worked with architect Maciej Kozak to develop maps and models that students could work with. In professional wayfinding practice, buildings are often at the planning or development stage, so it’s realistic for wayfinding designers to work with these kinds of resources.
This year’s brief envisaged a new community arts centre for Reading. Students worked on either an indoor or an outdoor wayfinding proposal for the centre.
Information Design Pathway student, Fred Pena came to Reading because of his particular interest in wayfinding. He said: “The wayfinding project is a good opportunity to work on different aspects of design. Having to think about strategy, information architecture, user interaction, typography, and the development and application of physical objects in a three-dimensional environment really makes it a challenging endeavour. It’s about more than just making signage, but developing a whole system that has to be functional and visually engaging.”
Siobhan Bailey (Graphic Design Pathway and returning alum from our BA programme) said: “I really enjoyed the wayfinding project as it was a completely new area of Graphic Communication that I was not able to study at undergraduate level. Coming from an art and psychology background before graphics, it was a perfect mix of the two and required a high level of critical thinking to meet user needs and solve problems. The skills I have learned throughout this project will be essential for me in terms of wanting to head into the exhibition design, events or wayfinding sectors, and in general for careers which require strategic thinking and initiative. Joan’s passion for wayfinding and user centred design really inspired me and he pushed me to achieve my absolute best at every step of submission.”
The project also includes a range of inspiring contributions from professional designers and agencies who are part of the Department’s professional network. Thank you to May Chiang from Applied Wayfinding (London), Hayley Branston and Elena McLoughlin from Maynard (London), Anita Meier from Moniteurs (Berlin) who shared their professional insights and Reading PhD graduate, Dr Andrew McIlwraith who shared his expertise on mapping.
Evgenia Vrentzou (Graphic Design Pathway) said: “Through the wayfinding project I learnt to have a more inclusive thinking by considering both the needs of people and the parameters of environment, in order to make an effective, creative and functional system. All the talks during the spring term were very inspiring and we gained important knowledge on how to develop our projects. Wayfinding combines both creativity and strategic thinking and is a part of design that I would like to emphasise even more in the future.”
Evgenia also chose to explore wayfinding for her professional practice assignment. In this self-directed project, she designed a new wayfinding system for the coastal city of Heraklion. Her project built on the findings from participant studies she conducted to understand people’s mental maps of the area – a great example of how we incorporate user research into practical projects at Reading.
In his professional practice assignment, Fred extended his experience of wayfinding to consider a journey-planning app that responded to new considerations arising during the pandemic. His wellbeing and urban mobility app – Let’s Walk – focused on supporting people, who might have anxiety about going out during the pandemic but also need to get regular exercise, to identify appropriate places and routes to achieve their goals.
The wayfinding project is open to students on the MA Communication Design Graphic Design and Information Design pathways and MA Creative Enterprise Communication Design pathway. We look forward to running this successful project again with our new cohort in spring 2022.
When we asked for volunteers to come and talk to our students about careers, we got quite a response. 17 generous friends and alumni stepped up to offer interviews and portfolio reviews. Robin Smith has a write-up (with a long list of credits) …
On 11 June we are launching an online showcase of our students' work.
To stay updated, please fill in the form at https://forms.gle/aHAr1iQwZEdbrEpr5 . You can also follow us at https://www.instagram.com/greaterthanatoz/ for a preview.
Congratulations to postgraduate researcher Bodil Mostad Olsen who has won the University’s prize for research communication in a poster competition, held as part of the University’s annual Doctoral Research Conference. Bodil’s communication of her research topic – the history of health communication on food labels – was judged top among a very competitive field of posters representing research across a wide range of arts, science and social science disciplines. Her poster illustrates her collections-based research. It shows the changing influences of scientific understanding of food hygiene and nutrition, food packaging technology, and societal change on the presentation of food to consumers from 1850–1970. This area of typographic and graphic communication practice, although influential in people’s everyday decision-making, has not been considered previously from this wide, contextual perspective.