Filmotype and the CBS Wall

I had planned to release a series of reflections on TypeCon 2009 immediately after the conference, but instead ended up in bed with pneumonia…

TypeCon featured lots of great speakers and projects about current typeface design, experimentation and challenges facing the community. And there were several sessions of note about historic preservation of some of type industries forgotten treasures.

The Filmotype

Stuart Sandler from Font Diner and Font Bros detailed the forgetton history of the Filmotype. The Filmotype was a portable photo typesetting machine that became popular in the 1950s. (Portable might be generous. The thing looked like it weighed a ton…)

Basically, it was used to set headlines without having to send the work out to a service. To support it, the Filmotype Company created hundreds of alphabets to their clients. Stuart has published a book on the Filmotype and purchased the rights to the font library.

He is working with a group of type designers to digitize the collection. Several of the typefaces have already been released.

The CBS Wall (aka, the Gastrotypographicalassemblage)

Rick Anwyl from The Center for Design Study in Atlanta detailed their efforts to restore the CBS Wall – also affectionately refered to as the Gastrotypographicalassemblage. It’s an amazing piece – and an amazing story. Basically, this inticate wall was created for the CBS cafeteria in New York by Lou Dorfsman and Herb Lubalin in a pre-computer, pre-laser fabrication era. It was dismantled and discarded… and rescued. And then sat in storage for decades.


The Center for Design Study in Atlanta is in the process of cordinating the resortation of the Gastrotypographicalassemblage. You can visit their site for details on the project.