Everyone’s Type

10/16/2008

helvetica-by-stempel_web.jpg

Matt and I do strange things. Recently, at Matt’s suggestion, we watched a full-length movie about typefaces.

As skeptical as I was that a film about fonts could keep my attention at one o’clock in the morning (which is when he usually gets the itch to pop in a DVD) I’ve learned never to doubt him on movie selection. He’s really never wrong.

Actually, the eponymous movie was primarily about one font in particular – Helvetica. While the film does provide a history of the Helvetica typeface and its creators for context, the movie is really about the the psychology of graphic design and how type affects our culture and everyday lives.

Created by Max Miedinger with Ed√ľard Hoffmann in 1957 for the Haas Type Foundry in M√ľnchenstein, Switzerland, Helvetica has become the most commonly used typeface in the world. It can be found everywhere from fashion designers’ logos to subway signs, from storefront lettering to IRS forms. I never thought that my default font could provide us with such a fascinating anthropological study.

The Gary Hustwit-directed movie contains rare interviews with some incredible design world luminaries including Massimo Vignelli, Stefan Sagmeister, Neville Brody, David Carson, Paula Scher, and Tobias Frere-Jones that speak to the globalization of visual culture.

Watch this tonight.

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