Finishing on 8 June, Sofia Design Week played host to a wide range of speakers for its talks programme ‘In Context’, including Bas van Beek and Dutch-based designers Peter Biľak and Radim Peško.
Sofia Design Week is a relatively new addition to the design calendar, with the first edition of the festival launching in 2009.
Alongside the talks are exhibitions, workshops and, of course, displays of new work from Bulgaria and from designers from around the world, including Els Woldhek, who we featured a few week’s ago, with her project Reeds, developed in conjunction with Bulgarian designer Georgi Manassiev.
Typographer and graphic designer Peter Biľak was born in Eastern block Czechoslovakia and now lives in The Hague. Creator of the Typotheque type foundry (the first to license its full font collection for the Internet) and co-founder of the Indian Type Foundry, Biľak’s interest in world type started when as a student he found that Bulgarian was not supported by most typefaces and he had to make his own accented letters to complete the fonts. Biľak became known in thee type world when he developed Fedra Arabic following a year-long collaboration with the Khatt Foundation and the Dutch Foundation.
At Sofia Design Week, Biľak gave a talk entitled 'It's About Time' and told us how he spoke about the Indian Type Foundry, the first company to develop and distribute digital fonts in the country. Biľak was keen to emphasise that “it takes millennia to develop languages, and they can disappear within decades and it is our work that helps to make Indic regional languages more widely used.”
“I spoke about time, how some projects go beyond the lifespan of the author and contrasted it to projects which are instantly consumed. As examples I showed some of the work with type design (which tends to survive for centuries), as opposed to work with dance projects, where a lot of work is put into a 30 minute show, which may be never performed again.”
Radim Peško is also a typographer and graphic designer and studied first in Prague and then graduated with an MA from the Werkplaats Typografie in Arnhem in 2004. Now living and working in Amsterdam (also teaching at the Rietveld Academie), Peško spoke about setting up the digital type-foundry RP in 2009 and how last year he made a Bulgarian version of the Russian Cyrillic font Fugue for One Magazine produced by Bulgarian design team Poststudio.
We did not mention earlier in the article, but Rianne Makkink was scheduled to talk also, but had to cancel due to a migraine – which brings us to Bas van Beek – product designer, critic of the Dutch design scene and lecturer at Rietveld Academie. Bas tells us: “When I was having my breakfast Saturday I got a call from the organization explaining that Rianne Makkink had cancelled her lecture for Sunday because of a migraine. Since she was scheduled to do her talk before me I thought it would be a good idea to give a mini Studio Makkink and Bey lecture. After the introduction I showed that their Kokon furniture from 1999 is clearly 'inspired' by the work of the Castiglioni brothers lamp made in 1960. As well as their Dok Chair from 2008 that is based on my Untitled chair from 2004.”
Bas then gave his lecture entitled The magical world of Basney which talked about his work over the last ten years and also showed some of the work he’s currently most excited about - that of his Rietveld students, including the “most amazing tea set ever”, designed by Rietveld designLAB students and made in Jingdezhen. Finally, to give the audience time to think of some questions to ask, van Beek proposed to serenade them with karaoke. “Somebody shouted 'Like a Virgin'. Exactly one week before I did this same song in a seedy karaoke bar in Jingdezhen with students - this time the audience was slightly bigger.”
Sofia Design Week finishes Friday 8 June 2012.
Main image: Sofia Design Week
Other images: 1.Peter Biľak 2.-3.Tulika Bengali, Indian Type Foundry 4. Radim Peško 5. Els Woldhek 6. Rietveld DesignLAB, Jurrijn Huffenreuter 7.-8. Bas van Beek
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