Ksenya Samarskaya on the future of the Type Directors Club

After a period of closure following accusations of racism, the 75-year-old organisation has appointed its first managing director. Here she tells CR about making the TDC more open, diverse and culturally engaging than ever before

“I’ll often compare type to food,” says Ksenya Samarskaya, founder of studio Samarskaya & Partners, and the TDC’s first ever MD. “In terms of, we deal with it daily; most of us don’t think much about it … but yet there’s this huge media landscape around food because it’s a vessel that carries cultural stories, it carries our histories, there’s a lot embedded there.

“Type is exactly the same way – it’s a container for all these bigger stories and histories of identity, of community, of expression. It’s embodied with much larger cultural conversations, rather than this single technical note it’s too often been relegated to.”

Top image: branding image from the TDC68 Communications Design and 25TDC Typeface Design Awards by Tereza Bettinardi; Above: image by Dan Ferreria

Samarskaya has been a member of the organisation for 17 years, and has served as both judge and chair for its annual Typeface Design awards. Founded in 1946, the club recognises and rewards excellent design, and hosts travelling exhibitions and events intended to celebrate type. 

It’s had a bumpy ride in the past couple of years, announcing it was closing down in 2020 after financial insolvency collided with accusations of racism. Type designer Juana Villanueva, who had previously been on the TDC board, wrote about his experiences, and former member and board member Bobby C Martin Jr also addressed the allegations.