Compulsive Bodoni

Project for an extended font familiy (after Bodoni)
September 20-22 / foyer C0
Exhibition concept and design by Riccardo Olocco and Jonathan Pierini

Parmigiano is to be a vast font family, completed thanks to the participation of many designers from different countries. The project is intended to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Bodoni’s death.

Bodoni (1740–1813) was the director of the Stamperia Reale di Parma (the Royal Printshop of Parma) for about 50 years, from 1768 to 1812. During these years he produced beautiful and precious books; the title pages he designed are remembered as monuments of neoclassical art, and some of the best achievements in the field.

“Re dei tipografi, tipografo dei re” (king among typographers, typographer of kings), Bodoni was a courtier. His works were often celebratory; the titles he chose – except for the classics – were quite plain and conservative. The Duke of Parma was to his own typography workshop what a ‘product’ would be to a marketing department today.

Bodoni was the most prolific punch-cutter in history. In the 1840 inventory by his widow, the typography items comprised 25,491 punches and 50,283 matrices. To cut 25 thousand steel punches is a huge effort; to some extent unnecessary. Many of the characters show undetectable differences in form as well as in dimension. This is in line with the ostentation of technique and means which characterize Bodoni’s work, and indeed his time. Among his works it is not rare to find books typeset with hundreds of different characters! Bodoni was in fact an obsessive-compulsive punch-cutter.

Thus, to celebrate Bodoni, as well as to support the megalomania which is typical of any type designer, including ourselves, we want to produce the biggest Bodonian font family ever made. Or rather, an extended Bodonian font family, which we are going to call Parmigiano.

Parmigiano is proof of the realisation that a type design which includes many different scripts, and that is to promote dialogue between cultures in an anti-colonialist perspective, has to be participative. Thus, after the Latin cuts designed by Riccardo Olocco and Jonathan Pierini, the second phase of the project will see an open call for the design of non-Latin script by specialist type designers. A kickstarter for each non-Latin script will be used to fund this second phase.

The exhibition presents typographic installations and editorial applications showing the Latin designs in all their cuts and variations, together with advance representations of the non-Latin scripts that will be produced later.