Typogaráž is an alternative space in Bratislava focusing on contemporary typeface design, typography, and book design. The designers in charge organise various workshops, talks, exhibitions, discussions, and ‘typo-parties’. Their wish is to fill the gap that exists between art and design scenes and experimental design practises.
Situated in a small garage that accommodates about 10 people, the setting is cosy. Space limitations and the inbuilt garage atmosphere lend it a special character. In addition to serving as car-parking spaces, old garages like this often accommodate DIY activities or music rehearsal sessions, creating important venues in the urban context. The combination of typography with a garage environment is effectively a call to action, provoking students and designers alike to reexamine the graphic design discourse and open up areas of practice that need some renovation or even complete replacement. This is especially crucial in a field that is heavily influenced by commercial production and is often subject to superficial aesthetic trends. What in-between spaces can a type-designer explore? And what kinds of experimental locations and formats can designers utilise to come together as a community, exchange ideas and inspire each other?
Talks that include sleepovers are one of the least common event formats that Typogaráž has organised in recent years. During a super fast-paced two-day artist residency, guest designers can do whatever they want in the garage (as long as it’s related to typography in some way). The space can be turned into a lab, a discussion forum, a concert stage, or simply a communal zone. This is a unique concept in the locale, providing an opportunity for an easy-to-manage, low-cost yet highly concentrated place for lively exchange.
Typogaráž has so far hosted: lectures by Slovak designers Martin Pyšný and Zuzana Kostelanská, and Czech type-design studio KOMETA; a workshop by Estonian designers Andree Paat & Aimur Takk; the project presentation of a contemporary digital typeface for Slovak school schools by Ján Filípek and Martina Rozinajová; the group exhibition of a project exploring differences in graphic design education in Europe; the screening of guilty-pleasure films; and a number of audio-visual and musical performances.
DIY venues like Typogaráž are rare, but these are very important for sustaining (or in the Slovak context, initiating) critical discussion among design professionals, creating space for reflective practice in contrast to commissioned work, and re-evaluating perspectives learned in school or blindly adopted trends from abroad. And also as places in which to simply meet and talk, encouraging practical experimentation, learning by doing, and researching through designing.author of the text: Lenka Hámošová