“Truth against Rumour,” 16/3, Verona: Fedrigoni, 2016. Offset printing, page size 218 x 266 mm, 16 pp. “This Is a Printing Office” written by Beatrice Warde, 1932. Korean stockmarket report taken from Yonhap News, online edition, 31 March 2016.
16/3 is the third volume of a series published by the Italian paper manufacturer Fedrigoni. Twenty-four designers have been invited to contribute to the series. Each designer was assigned a sixteen-page space, a paper to work with, and no other constraints in terms of content and design. Our piece starts with a custom typeface. At first glance, it would look like a skeletal take on Gill Sans. Upon closer inspection, the strokes turn out to be lines of text: a newspaper report on stock market fluctuations.
The typeface is used to set “This Is a Printing Office,” a manifesto written by Beatrice Warde in 1932, at the height of “new traditionalism” of typography in Britain. It was also a time when a promotional manager of the Monotype Corporation could argue, apparently without any sense of irony, for the vital role of printing in civilized societies: in conveying information, preserving knowledge, and thus providing solid — material — common ground on which people could communicate and debate with each other. Can printers, typographers, and designers today still be proud of being the “armoury of fearless truth”? In this “post-truth” world, can we still protect the common ground against the agents of “whispering rumour” that are haunting the internet and distorting the people’s judgment?