Meet Debora Manetti, the visionary co-founder and creative director of Ligature, a dynamic brand shaping the type design culture since 2001. Debora, along with Francesco Canovaro and Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini, leads Zetafonts Foundry, a prolific force in typography. As a seasoned professional and a juror for the Creative Communication Awards (C2A), Debora shares insights into her role, the evolving trends in creative communication, and her passion project—Fight for Kindness.
– Typography Dynamo: Zetafonts has spearheaded the creation of over 100 type families and unleashed more than 1,600 fonts into the design universe.
– Global Impact: Zetafonts has made waves with 20 million digital downloads, catering to a clientele including tech giants like Google and Apple, entertainment moguls like Disney and Netflix, and iconic brands such as Coca-Cola and Vogue.
– Visual Maestro: Beyond Zetafonts, Debora is a strategic design consultant for Kmzero, contributing her expertise to projects for renowned brands like Wired, Sky, and Disney.
With an unwavering belief in the communicative power of design, Debora sheds light on the impactful initiative called “Fight for Kindness.” This project, born out of Zetafonts’ commitment to cultural projects, TypeCampus, aims to amplify messages of change, inclusion, empathy, and peace through typography.
Exclusive Interview with Debora Manetti
Debora Manetti: As a designer, I have always considered the essence of the project in its proposition. The form must be supported by a strategy and a concept.
Debora Manetti: If you see – for example – the project was done for the TypoLyon conference by the talented Jo Iijima. Here one can see how typography not only serves communication but is the communication itself of the concept, which can ‘expand’ and ‘shift’ the knowledge of typography.
Debora Manetti: In recent years, the contemporary trend has been to bounce from one trend to another, disentangling as much as possible from labels and forms of staticity. We could say that this general trend is confirmed by the variety of styles, visual forms, and execution forms that are increasingly contaminated and, at the same time, evolving. We live in a restless time, and visual culture doesn’t provide answers, but rather many questions.
Debora Manetti: When dealing with a large number of projects, the temptation is always to give high marks to those that offer the best visual comfort. The ‘beautiful’ projects. There are plenty of them. However, projects of substance are not necessarily of that stereotypical beauty. Especially in recent years, aesthetic standards have been subverted in favor of the urgency of a message. Generally, I exercise the practice of giving projects two reading times: the first glance indicates the instinctive reaction, the form, and the impact. The second seeks a deeper meaning. Videos are often very useful for clearly seeing these two levels of communication.
Debora Manetti: Among the winners, is the project for The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.
With a stunning branding project, the designers (Olaf Jäger, Regina Jäger, Tanja Weich, Reinhard Thomas, and Nico Nolle from Jaeger & Jaeger Agency) explored the space between music and typography, mixing music language with a wordplay with German scripts to celebrate the fifty years. Very nice and beautiful.
Debora Manetti: As a creative community, we have enormous communicative potential. Sometimes, we are fortunate to come across projects and clients who pay us to convey an ethical message that holds both social and commercial value. At other times, it’s necessary to roll up our sleeves and try to play our part as world citizens and human beings. In 2021, with the establishment of our Zetafonts type foundry dedicated to cultural projects, TypeCampus, we decided to allocate a budget to enhance typography – a craft we handle every day – to convey messages of change, inclusion, empathy, and peace, as values we deeply believe in as a team.
This initiative gave rise to “Fight for Kindness,” a free call open to the entire design community, where Zetafonts invests each year to ensure that these messages receive the visibility they deserve. Thanks to the help of some very notable partners, among which C2Award, the project culminates annually with the celebration of World Kindness Day on November 13th, featuring a global, multi-location exhibition. The 2023 edition has recently concluded with exhibitions in Milan, Los Angeles, Budapest, Sofia, Leamington Spa, and Rome, and the new edition is set to begin.
Another project important for us is the Type Trends Lookbook, a trend research and report about design trends and scenarios, also thanks to several interviews with very different designers from all around the globe.
Debora Manetti: Certainly, the general trend in recent years has been to increasingly abandon the concept of static identity. At least for the near future, any visual form will have to deal with motion, CGI, and coding.
Debora Manetti: In the realm of creative awards, these accolades not only serve as instruments for professional growth but also act as keen observers of the international design landscape. Their multifaceted roles encompass providing designers with the opportunity to engage with projects spanning diverse levels and origins. Additionally, these awards play a crucial role in indexing the creators behind the nominated projects, facilitating connections among like-minded individuals. Perhaps most notably, creative awards offer a unique chance for individuals to receive valuable insights from selected professionals across the globe, who generously contribute their time and expertise during jury sessions.
Dive into the enchanting world of creative communication, where Debora Manetti not only pioneers new frontiers but also sculpts the very essence of design. As the visionary force behind Ligature and Zetafonts, she ignites a blaze of inspiration, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. Brace yourselves for the upcoming design trends she foresees, as we delve into the transformative power of creative communication—a force that propels change, champions inclusion, and radiates kindness.
Embark on an exploration of Debora Manetti’s extraordinary projects by visiting the links below.