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Stephen Banham, founder of Letterbox / Melbourne

von Tina Weisser

Über die Website der Neuseeländischen TypeShed11-Konferenz werde ich auf die Schriften von Stephen Banham aufmerksam. Sobald ich in Melbourne angelangt bin, suche ihn in seinem schönen Office Letterbox im originellen Melbourner Stadtteil Brunswick auf. Nach einem kurzen Gespräch erzählt er mir von seiner spannenden Zeit, die er in Deutschland erlebt hat.

How did it happen that you were in Berlin in 1989?
Stephen: I learned german and my german teacher was from Berlin. I swopped my car in Melbourne against her flat in Berlin for three months. So I was in Germany at one of the most important points in history and she was here with a car that wouldn’t start…that was quite funny.

I saw the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989, I had an appartement next to Potsdamer Platz and could actually see it from my window. I spend 3 months in Berlin and it was phantastic. Than I went to Prague by train and saw the government fall there as well. It was phenomenal, particularly being an Australian, where everything is so stable and unconcerned.
I wrote to 10 designers before I left Australia and only one responded and that was Eric Spiekermann from Metadesign. I had a look around there and visited their office, I had never seen something like that before. I was surprised that MetaDesign became such a commercial success. It also affected my business in those early days. We are also running a studio with a strong emphasis on typography and have been going now for nearly 20 years.

How did you start your career?
After I graduated from RMIT I spend one afternoon in an advertising agency and knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I worked at a newspaper for six months afterwards, went to Germany for three months, came back and started my own studio.

With what else are you keeping yourself busy besides working with clients and earning money?
We do books on typography, I teach in typography, we run events in the general community and city trips around typography. We have also organised typographic film festivals.

What do you like most about your job?
A lot of things – I really love it. If it wouldn’t be for the bills I would do it for free. I also love to teach and do research, that keeps me fresh and connected to people outside of my studio.

Local Melbourne tipps by Stephen:
Place:
Royal Arcade
Captiol City Arcade

Laneways:
Centre Place – Flinders Lane
Campbell Arcade – Degraves St.
Hosier Lane – City

Artists:
Juan Ford & Peter Atkins

Bookshops:
Metropolis Swanston St
Brunswick Barn, Brunswick St.

Cafès / Bar:
Rays , Victoria St
Tré Expresso, Sparta Pl
Wilkinson Finch Lygon st
Atticus Finch Lygon St
The Alderman Lygon St

Restaurants:
Rumi Lygon St
Cookie Swanston St.



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