Felix Rabe
Interview

Ellipsis – 100 Typographic Conversations
Adriana Bareikyte, 2019

Could you introduce yourself?

I am a Communication Designer. I stand in for a contemporary understanding of constructing brands in a holistic approach, towards a durable and agile identity that is based on content and also affects the spatial aspects of design. This leads to an enjoyable communication via picturesque text and meaningful images.

How, when and why did you started working in the editorial, graphic and typography design fields?

At HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd I had typography classes by Prof. Xuyen Dam. He was a strict teacher who taught us that design is not only the thing you put on the paper but also the way you wear your clothes, it affects your whole life. The practices and the harsh criticism were incredibly useful to form my own attitude. From then on it was micro and macro typography all the way!

How can language be transformed through typography and how can typography support the visualization of language?

The spoken word has many layers because of the sound it makes and the expressions in the face or the body language of a speaker. Typography can replace these layers and produce a feeling that comes with the words and it can communicate this undertone on a visual level.

What do you associate with typography? How would you describe the recent typography to past decades?

The best typography should be the one that presses the content on the top layer of the designed surface. But that requires useful and true content in the first place. Which is also an important cultural topic these days.

What characteristic features should a good typeface have? What makes a typeface look good?

I always liked the attitude that you only need a handful of various fonts in your life to design everything you need. So the more interesting question would be »how do you make the typeface look good?«. In the last years i started to get interested in independent type foundries, who offer contemporary fonts that are different from the classics and yet excellent executed.

How would you describe your own usage of typography in your projects? How do you work with typography? How and what do you use it for?

First of all, I use it to organize information. During my internship at büro uebele i began to use it to make abstract images where the reading is not so important anymore, because the communication works on other levels.

Felix Rabe Kommunikationsdesign Interview Plakat Karin Sander

How would you like typefaces to change and expand in the future?

I hope I’ll be aware of an interesting new font when it pops up because there are so many of them…

What was personally your favorite typographic project you worked on? Could you describe it and send some photos of it?

It is an identity for an austrian restaurant near Hamburg I did with two friends, Henning Arend and Patrick Vogt. The cook lived many years in Vienna, so we drew his name »Moritz« in the geometric style of the rooftop of the Stephansdom, each letter with a few orthogonal and parallel lines. Then we did a little experimental game and laid the Letters over each other and turned them around to get new images. We used these ornaments to create lamps and other objects for the room, like doors and shelfs. It is a completely holistic approach and it works superb. Funnily enough it also resembles the japanese influences in the interior design of Adolf Loos.

Felix Rabe Kommunikationsdesign Interview Moritz Restaurant Bar

Who or what inspires you the most on a daily basis?

To see that everything already exists and it just gets reorganized. This keeps me calm in a world full of infinite possibilities.

Make a statement about typography. What does it mean to you personally? How would you describe your relationship to typography?

I love the catalogue of universal rules that comes with it, and I love when people use or break it to create things that are different from each other.

Will the digital era change the way we read or even replace letters through pictograms, emojis or pictures in the future?

Images can communicate without the need of a specific language, so they can reach a huge group of people. This includes people who can’t read a profound text due to a lack of education. This method was used in the soviet propaganda for example and was later adopted by tabloid publishers like the german Bild-Zeitung. In the digital era, the output medium of letters is a tiny display. The loss of visible space and available time leads to a compressed communication via forms like icons instead of sentences, this can be emote icons or hashtags. They have similarities to stock photos. They are selectable organized in a catalogue, they can be used in various contexts and they expand the meaning of a specific entry, for example on instagram. And again: This enables to reach a huge group of people.

Do you think that graphic and type design professions merge more and more into each other? How can graphic designers and type foundries benefit from each other?

The good educated and open minded designer of our time can watch youtube tutorials for type design software (or 3d software etc.) and add these knowledge to his body of skills. It needs a bit more practical input to that, but the boundaries of these professions are literally just in the mind these days.