Atelier Tipografic *
by Dinu Dumbravician
Graphic design teacher at the University of Arts, Bucuresti Romania; supervisor workshop

(The Atelier Tipografic Paper, Bucuresti Romania, 2008)

Last April I made a mistake, a big one. The mistake was that I said yes to Piet Gerards. To what did I say yes? To his proposal to organise a small something (workshop was it?) with Dutch and Romanian students (Dutch design students and Romanian design students, come on ...).
You don't know Piet looks very peaceful, he also seems to be a very quiet, decent man. It is true that he always declares he is a troublemaker, but, unfortunately, I was sticking in my judgements to the appearances. I don't know how Piet had arrived at this idea ... Was it because of my complaints? About not having a proper typographic department ... or it was the spring? I don't have the scarcest idea, but the important thing was that the proposal was made and I said yes.
The planning started. At the beginning it was, as I previously said, a small workshop. Then we found out about the Premsela 'Golden Age' exhibition and we thought we should join. Then the Dutch designer's exhibition idea popped up and then the round table, and the 010 presentation and ..., thank God, at a moment, probably due to the lack of time, things stopped growing ... I was already desperate, but kept moving on ... I had already said yes, so what else could I do?
In the end lots of things happened in November. They were by far the most important Dutch Design events in Romania until now and each of them deserves our attention ... unfortunately, not having too much space, I have to limit myself to the workshop.
We had to start from this impossible connection: Dutch and Romanian typographic design, and we thought that the Premsela idea could work; they suggested as a starting point the 'Golden Age' book. David Quay's involvement in the workshop was crucial, he is the one who put the assignments on paper and fostered them. The students from Romania and Holland were paired together in small teams, each of them consisting of one Dutch and one Romanian student.
Each pair had to choose one piece of work from the book 'Nederlands grafisch ontwerp' (Dutch Graphic Design) by Purvis/De Jong.
The reason for choosing the work could have been a detail, use of colour, choice of letter, illustration (technique), photography, thematic, use of material, etc. The chosen subjects were used as a starting point for the new creations that were produced during the workshop.
I was a little bit scared at the idea of putting students together coming from such different backgrounds; the Dutch students coming from their rich and sound tradition and the Romanian ones coming from a tradition of permanent changes, if this can be called a tradition. At the beginning of the workshop each of the 24 students had to choose and present his best design, in order to introduce oneself. These works were also a part of the exhibition in the UNArte gallery.
When the students started to present their favourite works I saw that the Dutch students, although they were coming from 6 different academies, were clearly focused on certain ideas and concepts while their Romanian counterparts were more preoccupied by the look of the artworks. At the beginning I was wondering if the teaming would work and it was great to see, after they started fulfilling their assignments, how nice the 'chemistry' worked between the groups of students. Another topic submitted by David was the question if it was possible to recognise a place (country, region, town or street) by its type and typography? Each student was asked to make 12 photographs in their immediate environment. During the workshop all photographs were randomly projected to determine if the proposition was realised. In the end it all worked quite well and you can all see the resulting pieces of each of the 12 teams on the following 24 pages. The Dutch Design Colleges - a big 'thank you' - for having the courage to put themselves in this venture and for sending to Romania such interesting and very co-operative students.
I'm fully aware now of how important this kind of workshop can be and what a great thing it would be to transform this connection into a permanent one. I also very much hope that the Dutch counterparts will keep their interest in 'atelier tipografic Olanda Romania' and that we will be able to keep things going on.
My wholehearted thanks to Piet Gerards and to the extremely efficient Dutch team, to Catalin Balescu, to the people from La Strada+Lectura Form, to Janos Kurko from Brand Tailors and, last but not least, to Linotype GmbH - their Linotype Collection is an extremely important tool that will help us build what we need: a typographic specialisation.
Finally I must accept the evidence that making this mistake, I told you about, was the best thing that happened to me in 2007. But only because I made it with the right people.