WHEN A TYPEFACE DESIGN STUDIO TURNS PUBLISHER, THAIS SEEM TO HAVE MORE VARIETY OF TYPE AND GRAPHIC DESIGN BOOKS TO CHOOSE FROM
TEXT: WEE VIRAPORN
PHOTO: WORARAT PATUMNAKUL
We’re sure that most people remember Cadson Demak as a typeface design studio. But over the past year, we have begun to see the name given as publisher for a good number of publications ranging from a font design textbook (translated version) that brings together the company’s retrospective and a selection of essays from Cadson Demak’s website to a book that presents a collection of visions of reputable Thai designers.
Nevertheless, Cadson Demak’s Anuthin Wongsunkakon says that it is really not that surprising for the status of font designer and publisher to collide, considering the fact that during the time prior to digital printing, a publisher or printing house hired staff with typesetting expertise and abilities to actually design fonts. In many cases, publishers become the initiators of new developments of fonts to serve the growing production of media. But that is still not the main reason behind the studio’s new role as a publisher. The organizational structure of Cadson Demak has a Content Management unit overseeing the studio’s creative output, which basically revolves around the administration of a body of knowledge in academic, design and other dimensions that can be beneficial for designers and the general public. Apart from printed publications, the works come in different forms of media, encompassing a wide range of activities such as lectures and workshops.
Throughout its 15 years, Cadson Demak’s production of knowledge has been considerable and continual, utilizing different platforms of communication. The oldest article published on the website anuthin.org dates back to February 1999, whereas essays with relatively close publication dates are brought together in the book, Documented Lectures of Anuthin Wongsunkakon: 10 articles of private studies on graphic design (published by Corporation 4d back in 2000). In retrospect, we have witnessed many changes in Thailand’s graphic design industry. But one thing that is shockingly the same is the lack of textbooks and translated versions of internationally recognized publications in Thai language within the academic arena. The fact that Cadson Demak, as a publisher, chooses to publish a translation of the prominent typography textbook, Stop Stealing Sheep & find out how type works by Erik Spiekermann while making its business to keep the original layout page by page, is, in a way, a manifestation of their intent to improve the way things have been done.
Make no mistake, this is a deteriorating time for print media, but it is undeniable that textbooks are still very much needed and validated as an official form of academic knowledge. Perhaps, having more graphic design textbooks in Thai language could open the door for outsiders to gain a better understanding of the discipline. It will also allow for everyone to comprehend the role and connection between graphic design and other fields of study be it marketing, history, economics or social science. Waiting behind that door may be the world where clients and designers reach a new level of mutual understanding and respect while designers are able to develop their communication skills through reading and writing, hence, the possibility for their communication with the general public becoming more accessible and efficient.
Another interesting issue is the commercial success of the publishing business. With its books being viewed as too expensive, which contradicts their objective to promote design awareness among the general public, Cadson Demak’s team still strongly affirms that everything has been critically analyzed to the point where the studio is able to figure itself all out. The expensive price is essentially a reflection of the actual capital and related to factors such as minimum order and stock management. The team does not believe in the reduction of production quality in order to obtain a cheaper selling price or significant increase of sales, as taking such position could potentially jeopardize support gained from the design-conscious readers who will shy away from less beautiful books. In conclusion, Cadson Demak expects the content to indirectly influence people’s understanding of design while generating greater benefits for the main business. As for the consumers, acknowledging and understanding the actual capital and intellectual values of a book they buy are also crucial.
In a time when we are subsumed by the influx of information obtained through different media platforms, knowledge management has become more important than ever. The birth of Cadson Demak Publishing is testament to how burdensome management can be executed with the right process and presentation method. By achieving that, a new business can be the perfect complement to a main business. The know-how in transporting and exchanging content from one media to another will become the key element of future knowledge management. The next move by Cadson Demak’s Content Management is, therefore, worth every following.