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June 23, 2007

Macedonian Madness

Tuesday I arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece, for the 3rd International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication. It was font-geek central, Macedonian style. Braving 95-degree heat, I put one of the film posters up at the conference registration center, but 10 minutes later it was gone! I asked the staffers what happened, and they told me someone from the Design Museum had taken it. Since it was the only copy I’d brought, I was not pleased… but I later discovered that the culprit was renegade Greek design curator Stergios Delialis, who earlier that day had delivered a stream-of-consciousness presentation entitled “Helvetica: Still the Perfume of the City.” Armed with props including a cuckoo clock, a Toblerone bar, and the Communist Manifesto, Delialis read the lyrics from Donovan’s “Colors”, did some action painting, and somehow tied it all up with the closing statement, “Helvetica is still the perfume of the city!” Amazing.

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Stergios Delialis in action

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Stergios is the director of the Thessaloniki Design Museum, and invited me to the opening of their latest exhibition the following night:

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Stergios’ psychedelic Helvetica poster

I love this guy! Apparently the Design Museum, which is the only one in Greece, has been homeless for the past ten years, struggling to maintain funding while hosting their exhibitions in other organizations’ spaces. It’s a real shame, because they’ve got a great collection and Stergios is a true character. Later, I found out that he’d taken our poster, made a full-size duplicate of it on their color-copier, and then re-hung the copy at the conference center. So now I can say that we have a poster the collection of the Thessaloniki Design Museum. Or the Experimental Jetset (who designed the poster) can say that.

We screened the film in the stunning Olympion Theater, a classic room with a vaulted ceiling and three balconies. After the screening a bunch of us ended up at a bar called Residents, where a DJ friend was spinning a sweet mix of Suicide, Pavement, Spacemen 3, and other hits. Later I found out the DJ was the guitarist for the Greek indie band Dread Astaire, who sound like, well, a sweet mix of Suicide, Pavement, and Spacemen 3. And more.

The next night I had a chance to have dinner with conference organizers Klimis Mastoridis and Gerry Leonidas, and Helvetica interviewee Neville Brody.

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Note the “Erik” name tag… a reference to Herr Spiekermann’s not making it to the conference…

Thanks to Gerry, Klimis, Anna, Apostolos, Stergios and Kostas from the Design Museum, and everyone at the ICTVC!

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Dimitris Kanellopoulos says

Jul 10, 2007

Well I saw the film the day after and I have to say that it is brilliant. Well done!
I hoped you enjoied your visit in Thesalloniki...