New Work / ONDREJ JÓB, Edelhof

On Židovská Street in Bratislava, an apartment building from the 1930s was reconstructed. We were attracted by the sensitive renovation of the original inscription on the building, this type of approach to reconstruction is still exceptional in Slovakia. The period typo is a very interesting phenomenon in reading the historical layers of the city and the life of its inhabitants. We talked about its reconstruction with graphic designer, letter designer and author Ondrej Jób.

Ľubica Hustá: What research preceded the renovation of the inscription? At what stage of the project did you enter during the reconstruction of the house on Židovská Street?

Ondrej Jób: In projects of digitizing historical inscriptions, the amount of input information is usually very limited – often there is only a single photograph, even a poor-quality one. However, it is quite helpful to know the period and circumstances of the inscription’s creation, or the author of the building, which makes it possible to study the typographic trends of the period, or ideally to find similar inscriptions for reference.

In the case of the Edelhof, this is exactly what happened – one photograph, the year 1930 and the Viennese architect Josef Nowotny. It was not possible to read the typographic details of the lettering from the photograph, but it was quite clearly the typeface that can still be seen in Vienna today, as the proportions, boldness, contrast and design details all matched. I contacted the Viennese type designers, but no one knew of a faithful digitisation of the typeface. So I digitized it from scratch and from actual photographs of the Vienna inscriptions.

I was invited to join the project by architect Radoslav Pavlovič from the Pavjan studio, who specialises in house renovation. The technical design of the restored inscription was entirely in his hands, I supplied the digitised documents.

Have you done an assignment like this before? Or is there a demand?

I have done several of these, for example the Propeller sign on the embankment in Bratislava, I have done two projects with the restaurateur Marek Repáň (Nitra, Žilina), one with Ateliér HAUS (Banská Bystrica). I believe that with the growing awareness will come more and more realizations.

The restoration of writing is quite exceptional in our area, you yourself are one of the collectors of period inscriptions in public space. Have you thought about how one could help their preservation (apart from museum acquisitions) – or how to work with it secondarily?

I’ve long been planning to catalogue my archive in detail and make it available online, so that it can serve as a database of references for myself and for anyone interested in reviving old inscriptions. Although it’s already online on the Type Atlas Instagram account, Instagram makes it virtually unsearchable, so its use is very limited.

In addition, I plan to continue to expand my catalogue of complete digitised typefaces – I’ve started with signs in public spaces and would like to move seamlessly into tombstone typefaces, another area that is rapidly declining aesthetically with the digitisation of stonework technology.

27 / 6 / 2023
by Ľubica Hustá
Share on Facebook