Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Swiss Design Classic

H E L V E T I C A , the unadorned, utilitarian typeface which graphic designers have used for more than half a century, is the subject of a 2007 documentary by director Gary Hustwit. Helvetica is everywhere — from bus benches to food packaging.

A documentary about a typeface?... What a great idea! Watching this film gave me a better appreciation for the 1957 typeface formerly known as "Die Neue Haas Grotesk."

As an art director/designer, I always like the challenge of choosing the perfect typeface(s) for each creative project. For print design, the choices are practically limitless. (Although I must admit to having my own sans serif favorites: Gill Sans, Futura, Frutiger, Rotis...)

W E B  - S A F E   T Y P E F A C E
In the last few years, I've used Helvetica quite a bit. Its clean, minimalist design is a plus for all-digital online (website) projects. Helvetica is "web-safe," reads well on both large and small screens, and still feels contemporary.

Many well-known designers are featured in the documentary: Massimo Vignelli, Paula Scher, Michael Beirut and Erik Spiekermann, among others. Mr. Vignelli, an award-winning Italian designer living in New York, shows some of his firm's work including the iconic 1972 New York City subway map — a project which used Helvetica extensively. Type designers are featured, too: Matthew Carter, Hermann Zapf, Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones. Definitely "A-List."

Films about typography are a rare treat. Anyone who is interested in design and communication will enjoy "Helvetica."


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At Emilie Pallos Graphic Design, we create print, web and signage projects, and are known for classic, yet modern design. For a FREE consultation about your marketing or visual communications project, please send a note to Emilie at studio@emiliepallosdesign.com. View our work here: http://www.emiliepallosdesign.com.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Photos: Spread from "Helvetica Forever: Story of a Typeface" by Lars Muller Publishers (2009)

Type specimen book featuring different weights and point sizes.