Istanbul Design Week


Istanbul Design Week

Istanbul Design Week

Istanbul Design Week



Project | Light Show »Seamen« for the Istanbul Design Week.
Year | 2005.
Client | Istanbul Design Week, Turkey.
Sector | Cultural and Creative Industries.
Services | Artwork.

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and European Typography in Turkey
Wolfgang Beinert at the Istanbul Design Week 

Lecture in German with simultaneous translation following the Istanbul Design Week in cooperation with the Alman-Türk Ticaret ve Sanayi Odasi. Istanbul, Monday, 24 October 2005 at 2:00 p.m. [OZ] at the Four Seasons, Tevkifhane Sokak No. 1, Sultanahmet-Eminönü, Istanbul.

During the Design Festival, there will be the Light Show »Seamen« on İstiklal Caddesi between Galatasaray Square and Taksim Square in Beyoglu every day except Fridays between 10:00 p.m. and midnight.


What does Western European typography have to do with Istanbul? Well, a lot, actually. While most graphic designers know that typography developed in the early Renaissance in Germany and Italy through the German prototypographers, very few know that the first literary and scientific »content«, especially ancient Greek and Roman literature, came mostly from the reference libraries of emigrant intellectuals from Constantinople, such as Constantine Laskaris. ¹

Even the term »Typographia« ² was probably coined by this circle of scholars. And not to be forgotten: the first pure Antiqua, which was printed by Pannartz and Sweynheym in 1467 near Rome, typographed the first edition of the famous »Epistulae familiares« by Marcus Tullius Cicero, whose manuscripts also came from humanists from Constantinople, i.e. from Istanbul.

And finally: after Rome fell, we even forgot to build roads and for the most part lived like savages in the Middle Ages, our ancient European advanced civilisation, which is so highly valued today, was preserved in what is now Turkey. Speculatively to the point: without Constantinople there would be no Renaissance, without Renaissance there would be no typography and without typography there would be no graphic design.


With the founding of the Republic of Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on 29 October 1923, Western European typography returned from its »emigration« to Istanbul, formerly Constantinople. It helped in the breathtaking processes of change, displaced Arabic and Asia Minor type systems and is today, as in the rest of the Western world, the mainstay of Turkish graphic design.

In this context, Wolfgang Beinert will show his internationally award-winning work for globally operating German companies and freelancers, which is primarily convincing through the considered use of Western European antiqua typography. The illustrated lecture will last about 90 minutes. There will be an opportunity for discussion afterwards.

¹ Constantine Laskaris (born 1434 in Constantinople, died 1501 in Messina), a descendant of the Byzantine emperors of Nicaea, was one of the most important scholars of the Renaissance. After the fall of Constantinople (1453), he was exiled to Italy through the mediation of Cardinal Bessarion and in 1460 to the ducal court of Milan, where he was appointed tutor by Francesco Sforza to his daughter Hippolyta and quickly became the focus of a circle of humanists. Laskaris taught at the universities of Rome and Naples, and from 1466 until his death also in Messina, where Pietro Bembo was one of his students. Constantine Laskaris was, among other things, the author of the Greek grammar »Erotemata«, which was printed in 1476 in the Milanese Offizin of Dionysius Paravisinus as the first work completely in Greek letters, cut by the Cretan Demetrius Damilas. The first reprint of this standard work in the Greek language appeared in 1495 in the office of Aldus Manutius, as its first printing ever, edited by Pietro Bembo and in types by Francesco Griffo. The majuscules of the second type used in this print, a still somewhat rudimentary Antiqua, were used as models for a new cut with which Aldus printed the treatise »De Aetna« by Pietro Bembo. This legendary »Bembo type« introduced the new group of so-called »Antiqua of the Aldinian type«.

² In printed form, the word »Typographus« can be traced for the first time in 1488 in the introduction to the »Astronomicon« by the Roman poet and astrologer Marcus Manilius (1st century AD), an incunabulum from the Milanese offizin of Antonio Zarotto (1450-1510). This is an indication for the hypothesis that the nomenclature »Typographia, Typographus«, which only emerged with the »nova latinitas«, i.e. the »Neo-Latin« of the Renaissance and was borrowed directly from Greek, may have originated in the Milanese humanist circle around the Byzantine scholar Constantine Laskaris. From the 17th century onwards, this word creation, which originated in humanism, became a fixed part of the scholars’ vocabulary.

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Wolfgang Beinert