The Typography department introduces students to the range of graphic applications including the letter, the word, and text, using media such as paper and the screen (editorial design, font design, poster design, other signage, computer code and any other field using written language). The teaching staff stresses the importance of research, curiosity, and a consistency in manual and technical practice as a starting point for the students’ work.
An association with the Book Design/ Bookbinding department has been established, including its practices and sharing a number of classes and exercises.
Students approach contemporary typography with the historical transversality of cultural and artistic transformations of the past century, as well as the current work channeled through computers and the web. The department critically examines the principal tools used, with the intent of finding new directions and capacities, including the software used in the field.
In the first (Bachelor’s level) cycle, projects are planned to help students develop their skills and to learn typographic bases, setting up their own visual language and work process. Font design, page layout, hierarchy, rhythm and assessment of the different support media, and understanding the context and content with which they are working. Personal and experimental research supplements their work practice, helping students grasp the principal issues in current typography.
In the second (Master’s level) cycle, students develop a more articulate and consistent research process. This sets up two years of experimentation and reflection which develop autonomy and fulfillment, awakening scientific and artistic curiosity, training the critical eye and developing an awareness of individual and collective responsibilities, and perfecting their skills in the long term. The department teaches students how they may contribute to the development of a democratic, pluralist and supportive society, how actions have consequences. These objectives also influence each person’s range of action, as well as self-directed thinking and Platonian maieutics, “the art of intellectual midwifery.” At the end of the program, students are able to present their research processes and its results, to plausibly recount their journey in a dissertation and to present it to both a jury of experts and the public.
It is important to note that the print workshop at La Cambre was endowed by its founder, Henry van de Velde, with an impressive collection of metal type, including the principal historical European alphabets. A Heidelberg printing press is still in use to print students’ work; it is used by students from the entire school, and is an interesting contrast to current typographical practice which is mostly digital.
Pedagogical coordination :
Mads Freund Brunse, typographer, graphic designer
Pierre Huyghebaert, typographer, graphic designer