University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings

Irmi Wachendorff

Irmi Wachendorff
  • Tutor, practice and theory of typography and graphic communication across undergraduate and master’s programmes
  • Convenor, ‘Design Discourse’ undergraduate module
  • Supervisor, professional assignments, dissertations, and theses


Room F10, Typography & Graphic Communication, TOB2 (Building 21)

Building location

Whiteknights campus

Areas of interest

My areas of interest span the practice, theory and history of graphic communication, typography and visual culture, with special interests in typography and lettering in urban spaces, the relationship of typography and language, lay typography and decision-making, and the bridge between visual communication and sociolinguistic disciplines. I regularly seek out cross-disciplinary collaborations in typographic landscape research, investigating typography as a social practice in global, multilingual urban environments. My interests extend to communication design for social transformation and information design. In light of current global environmental and social challenges, I see a growing need for persuasive graphic communication to promote positive change. I also pursue collaborations with partners who value expertise in strategic graphic communication that incorporates inclusive, participatory, and co-design.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome opportunities to supervise doctoral research in my areas of interest and expertise including (but not limited to) the history and current practices of graphic communication and typography, graphic design and typography in the built environment, typographic landscape research, and research building on typographic and linguistic theory.


I teach typography and graphic communication practice across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes encompassing editorial design, book design, branding, information design, data visualisation, environmental design, way-finding and inclusive design. I also teach graphic design history and discourse, visual culture and design theory. I am passionate about historical and contemporary debates, including topics such as change-points in design history, decolonizing graphic design, and design for social change. Through my teaching, I encourage students to evaluate graphic artefacts in their technical, cultural and social contexts, make informed decisions, and develop socially responsible and transformative practices for the future. My aim is to support students in finding their own voice as designers.

Research projects

I am currently developing a cross-disciplinary research group on Typographic Landscape Research, seeking collaborators to share in the investigation of lettering, typography and sign-making in urban spaces as social, spatial, and cultural practice.


I am a graphic designer, design historian, and sociolinguist. I have defended my doctoral dissertation titled  ‘Typographic Landscapes – The Social Dimensions of Typography and Lettering in Multilingual Urban Environments in the Ruhr Metropolis’ at the University of Duisburg-Essen in December 2023 (summa cum laude). My research was funded by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation and will be published in 2024.

I have taught in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at Reading since 2017, first as an Associate Lecturer before taking up the position of Associate Professor in 2023. Previously, I was research associate / lecturer at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen (2014–2017) and research assistant for the project ‘Signs of the Metropolis – Visual Multilingualism in the Ruhr Area’ at the University of Duisburg-Essen (2013–2016).

As a practising graphic design professional, I worked at Gottschalk+Ash Int’l, Zurich (2009–2012) and Frost*Design, Sydney (2008–2009) following an internship at Studio Philippe Apeloig, Paris (2006). I was engaged in editorial design, environmental graphic design, wayfinding, exhibition design, information design, data visualisation, packaging, branding and type design.

Academic qualifications

Dr. phil. in Germanic Linguistics (summa cum laude)
University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany (defended 2023, publication 2024 (forthcoming))

MA Art and Design History
Folkwang University of Arts Essen, Germany (2015)

MAS Typography & Type Design
Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland (2011)

Diplom Visual Communication Design (BA & MA equivalent),
University of Art and Design Offenbach, Germany (2008)

Professional bodies/affiliations

Design Research Society

Design History Society

Association Typographique International (ATypI) 

German Society for Design Theory and Research (dgtf)

Selected publications


Wachendorff, I. (2019) Identitätskonstruktionen durch skripturale Variation mehrsprachiger Typografie, Duisburg: Universitätsverlag Rhein-Ruhr. 252 pp.

Ziegler, E., Eickmans, H., Gehne, D., Mühlan-Meyer, T., Schmitz, U., Haci-Halil, U., Wachendorff, I. (2018) Metropolenzeichen: Atlas zur visuellen Mehrsprachigkeit in der Metropole Ruhr, Duisburg: Universitätsverlag Rhein-Ruhr. 320 pp.

Co-edited volume

Digel, M., Shapiro, A., Wachendorff, I. (eds.) (2017) Transdisziplinäre Gestaltung, Vienna: Passagen. 330 pp.

Book chapters / conference proceedings (peer reviewed)

Wachendorff, I. (2021) ‘Typographetics of urban spaces. The indication of discourse types and genres through letterforms and their materiality in multilingual urban spaces’, in: Haralambous, Y. (ed.) Grapholinguistics in the 21st Century: Proceedings of Grapholinguistics in the 21st Century, Brest: Fluxus Editions, pp. 361–415

Wachendorff, I., Umbach, K. (2019) ‘Texte ausstellen’, in: Digel, M., Goldschmidtböing, S., Peters, S. (eds.) Searching for Heterotopia – Andere Räume gestalten, Hamburg: Adocs Verlag, pp. 204–15

Wachendorff, I. (2018) ‘Cultural stereotypes in letter forms in public space’, in: Erlhoff, M., Jonas, W. (eds.) NERD – New Experimental Research in Design, Basel: Birkhäuser, pp. 206–33

Wachendorff, I., Schmitz, U., Ziegler, E. (2017) ‘Graffitiscape im Ruhrgebiet’, in: Lieb, L., Müller, S., Tophinke, D. (eds.) Graffiti. Auf- und Inschriften in sprach- und literaturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive, Vienna: Praesens, pp. 154–208

Wachendorff, I. (2016) ‘Social recognition through multilingual typography in public space – global, local and glocal texts in Dortmund Nordstadt’, in: Amado, P., Quelhas, V., Pereira, J. (eds.) 6.º Encontro de tipografia: Livro de Atas, Aveiro: Universidade de Aveiro, pp. 53–82

Publications of design work

Type design ‘Musica’, in: Barmettler, R. (2020) Zurich type design, Zürich: Triest, pp. 150–1.

Logo design ‘W’LAW’, in: Evamy, M. (2012) Typologo. Mit Zeichen Zeichen setzen!, Mainz: Verlag Herman Schmitz, p. 193

Visual identity ‘W’LAW’, in: Zec, P. (2011) International yearbook communication design 2010 / 2011 – hot & cool, Essen: Red Dot Edition

Exhibition design ‘Abundant Australia’, in: TwoPoints.Net (2010) Left, right, up, down: Neue Ansätze für die Gestaltung von Leitsystemen, Berlin: Gestalten Verlag

Poster design ‘Internationales Literaturhaus Berlin’, in: Brillowska, M. / Jankowski, A. / Eckart, P. (2008) Universum Super – HfG Jahresbericht 2008, Offenbach am Main: Hochschule für Gestaltung


Loading your publications ...