Fiona Ross

Type design practitioner and educator, UK

Women in type: acknowledging invisible hands

In concert with TypeTech’s theme of type and society, Fiona and Alice will discuss a University of Reading interdisciplinary research project, that draws on their experiences as type designers and historians to provide the first socio-historical analysis of women’s role in the male-dominated British type-manufacturing industry during the twentieth century.

read moreDesign histories have largely overlooked the activities of those – particularly women – who contributed to type-making processes during the rapidly changing social and technological environments of that period. Initial research, undertaken as part of the ‘Women in Type’ project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, revealed that a number of type foundries across Europe employed women as part of departments that were alternatively known as drawing studios, type-drawing offices, or departments of typographic development. Yet the work of these women was customarily unacknowledged or attributed to male designers. This talk will discuss how the research project has enabled the documentation of a more accurate account of the lived experiences of women in the type industry and their design contributions by focusing on women’s status and responsibilities in the type-drawing offices of Monotype and Linotype from 1910-1990. In the wider context, the presentation of illustrated case studies and the introduction of a new ‘Women in Type’ website aims to advocate a more inclusive view of design history that provides nuanced narratives of as yet unrecorded collaborative practices.

Fiona Ross specialises in type design and typography primarily for Arabic, South Asian, and Thai scripts, with a background in languages and a PhD in Indian Palaeography (SOAS). She works as a consultant, type designer, author, and lecturer; her recent published design work has been in collaboration with John Hudson and Neelakash Kshetrimayum. Fiona is Professor in Type Design (part-time) at the University of Reading (UK). For her work in type design and education, Fiona received the 2014 SoTA Typography Award and the 2018 Type Director’s Club Medal.

Fiona Ross
Speaker at TypeTech MeetUp

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