Alice Savoie

From Lead to Light: Phototypesetting, a Revolution for Type Design

June 13, Saturday 16:45 – SALT Galata

Type designers have been using Bézier curves to design typefaces for more than thirty years and, except for the introduction of new formats such as OpenType or Woff, the design processes used in digital type have remained pretty much unchallenged since three decades.

In comparison, the thirty years that preceded the digital era witnessed great changes, as metal type was superseded by photographic processes. Phototypesetting represented a radical transformation in the way typefaces were produced and handled, challenging years of well-established practices in type design and manufacturing. The typographic matrix was freed from the weight and the physicality of lead to become the pure product of light. With phototypesetting, most typographical conventions inherited from metal type had to be swiftly reinvented, and relationships between designers and type manufacturers had to be redefined.

In this talk, Alice Savoie will tell us why she thinks the phototypesetting era is a fascinating period that is often overlooked, and why it is still of relevance for practicing designers today.


About Alice Savoie

Alice Savoie is a typeface designer and researcher. She studied graphic design and typography in France, and holds an MA and a PhD from the University of Reading (UK). She collaborates with international design studios and type foundries (Monotype, Process Type Foundry, Tiro Typeworks, Our Type) and has specialised in the design of typefaces for editorial and identity purposes. Between 2008 and 2010 she joined Monotype as an in-house type designer, working on custom projects for international clients and contributing to the design of new typefaces for the Monotype library. She collaborated with Tiro Typeworks over the development of the Brill type family for the Dutch publisher Brill, which received a Certificate of Excellence from the NY Type Directors Club in 2013. In 2014 she was awarded a PhD from the University of Reading for the research she carried out in collaboration with the Musée de l’imprimerie in Lyon (France) on the design of typeface during the phototypesetting era. She teaches type design at the Atelier National de Recherche Typographique in Nancy, and at Ésad Amiens (France). She works as an independent type designer in Frankfurt.