30th April, 2018 by Rob Keller
Originally designed by Tanya George, the Mumbai Typostammtisch logos get modified for each event.
A Typostammtisch (pronounced too-poe-shtam-tish)(टुपोश्टाम्मटिश) is defined by Dan Reynolds as: a regular meet-up, usually at a bar, where people talk about the world’s best, and worst, type projects (paraphrased).
I was first introduced to the Offenbach Typostammtisch back in 2007 while I was spending a year in Frankfurt Germany. That event was always held in a small bar where a table of 10 or so of the local type community would get together and hang out every month. It was conducted mostly in German, but was still a great excuse to get out and meet other designers.
The next year I moved to Berlin which had their own Typostammtisch and a much larger community. The events there generally had at least 50 attendees, but often it ballooned to over 100. These meet-ups were a bit different than those in Offenbach, they would generally have in-depth presentations followed by socializing.
Ever since moving from Berlin to Mumbai in 2014, I’ve wanted to export / import the idea of the Typostammtisch to India. The type community here is still fairly small and I’ve always wanted to do something to help it grow. There is one other local group here called Aksharaya and they had previously been conducting regular events similar to the Berlin Typostammtisches. They hosted many great Indian designers who gave presentations to quite large groups of people, from the few that I attended. Sadly, they’ve not been very active lately and there haven’t been any new events in the last few years.
So for about 2.5 years we had been thinking about starting a local Typostammtisch, but just never did – mostly because it seemed like it would be too difficult to get people to attend. Mumbai is such a massive and crowded city that it can easily take an hour or more to get where you want to go. Combine that with long work days and family responsibilities, and it makes it extremely hard for people to find time for events. And from the organizers’ side, it’s also tough to find venues to host large groups – even more so when you can’t estimate how many will show up!
Things finally changed when we met Tanya George in March 2017. She randomly contacted us as she was also a Reading MATD graduate living in Mumbai. We discussed the idea of the Typostammtisch with her and she was so enthusiastic about it that we simply made the first one two weeks later. She had the delightful attitude that ‘even if it’s just us that show up, we can have a nice evening together. And if a few more people come that’ll be even better.’
So the first Mumbai Typostammtisch was held at our studio and there ended up having 16 people! The evening was billed as a meet and greet and we mostly discussed what people would want out of some future type events.
Everyone brought something, or showed something from online, to talk about and share. There was a huge variety of interesting projects and typographic objects, we were all pleasantly surprised!
A simplified version of Type Cooker, where people drew from three different stylistic recipes.
Tanya, Kimya, and Noopur Datye gave talks about various aspects of Indian type design.
This was an especially fun event where groups of two would create their own letters (but they should be visually coordinated) in a given style/width/weight/decoration, and with two materials – all parameters (including the partners and materials) were randomly assigned.
Katharina Seidl and Rob gave talks about how to approach type design when you aren’t familiar with the script.
This month’s main attraction was a »White Elephant« gift exchange.
For the occasion of our first anniversary, we asked a few friends from abroad (either affiliated with other Typostammtisches and/or who work with Indian type design) to send us little video messages to share with our group. Thank you to everyone who participated, it is helpful to see that the type design community is truly international and what you do in one place can be noticed and appreciated somewhere else around the world.
And thank you to Anand Prahlad of Qitaab publishers for his incredible Gin and Tonic cake!
This first year of events we’ve experimented by moving around to different locations and had different themes for the evenings. We’ve learned a lot, but still have not really figured everything out. The location makes the most difference as to who and how many people come (mostly related to the travel time issue). But there are always so many personal and professional things happening in Mumbai that it’s generally a gamble if people will be free on any given day.
Going forward we plan to continue with a mix of events: casual hang outs, drawing nights, and lectures. If you are ever in or around Mumbai, you should look us up! We are always happy to meet new people! Also if you have suggestions for events or locations, we’d be happy for the organization to be more democratic and open.