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Berton Hasebe ‘05

Dec 16, 2013
Studying type design in The Hague
Spotlight Category: Alumni
I can’t say that winter in The Hague was the easiest thing for me. As a Hawaii expat, biking in zero-degree weather or being surrounded by grey skies most of the time was difficult. However the city itself is great, the sky eventually became blue more often, and weather-related concerns are a small factor compared to how much I enjoyed living, studying, and traveling in The Netherlands.
I graduated in 2005 with a BFA in Graphic Design, and in my junior and senior years, my interest in letterforms and type design grew to a point where I knew I’d eventually like to continue my studies. After working for about two years at Intersection Studio in Venice, I was accepted at the Type and Media program at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (KABK). There are several courses in the world that offer a type design curriculum, however I was particularly interested in KABK because of its great faculty and underlying curriculum. Although research of historical type models plays a part in the curriculum, teaching comes from a hands-on approach, where students quickly begin drawing letterforms through an understanding of basic structures. Through lessons in contrast, spacing and  proportion, we analyzed and drew letters based on an understanding of construction rather than direct historical references. The first part of the curriculum introduces type design through a broad range of topics such as calligraphy, stone carving, letterform sketching, typeface software/production methods, Python programming, and type history and theory. The second part is devoted to an execution of a final project, where the student focuses on a specific area of interest and designs a type family in this context. Intermittently throughout the year are class trips outside of the Netherlands, which included the Plantin Moretus museum in Antwerp and the Typo Berlin Conference. The ten students in the class came from Brazil, Canada, Italy, Switzerland and Vienna. This diversity plays a strong role in the class atmosphere, as each person’s background and perspective  contributes to a variety of coursework and design sensibilities. We became quite close, acting as a family with the same goals, rather than individuals competing against one another.