African Typography: The Case for Decolonising Design

Session 7

Sunday, 3 October 2021

12:30 PM CDT – 1:00 PM CDT



  • English
Written language expressed through typography is one of the pillars of visual design. For designers, it is a crucial step in communicating their concepts and ideas. Most western curricula in design schools focus on the Latin, also known as the Roman alphabet, which excludes other alphabets and semiotic systems. This talk will focus on the understanding of African typography, and the cross-roads of western definitions, and the success of non-western design. In particular, the understanding of the root of African typography compared to the Swiss definition of typography. This talk will expand on nuances such as incorporating symbols and visuals and valuing them as a form of visual language creating accessibility. It embodies the cultures and the people communicating through these alphabets. In design, this is key in communication and outreach. Language and culture are less likely to become distorted if their alphabets are not devalued due to their lack of documentation. It is tempting to hypothesize what African typography could have looked like had colonialism not erased the local traditions that were already present. To reiterate, in order to decolonize design, it is essential to understand the pervasive nature of colonialism. If decolonization of typography were to occur, how effective would it be in African languages?
  • Biatchinyi

    Sara Biatchinyi


    A designer focusing on decolonisation and identity politics, Sara Biatchinyi finds herself heavily invested in the crossroads of research and design. Originally from Modena, Italy, Sara has lived in Zambia, Indonesia, Tanzania, India, Namibia, and Chile before deciding to settle in Paris for her BFA in Communication Design. The experience of first hand integration in different countries has nurtured her appreciation for cultural diversity. Her work has integrated data design, editorial design, photography and sound design. In addition, her work has always revolved around identity and the shaping of society around her. An avid reader and curious researcher, Sara uses the strengths of her visual language and design to provide symbiotic relationship between the aesthetic and content of her works.

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