Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Helvetica is fifty and everywhere

Typography and graphic design grabs my attention. My wife, Pat, tells me that she notices that when I'm feeling a bit stressed I often spend hours redisigning some unit of work I am to present. I lose myself in the small details and problem solving. I came across a piece with a slide show by Mia Fineman "The Helvetica Hegemony: How an unassuming font took over the world" in Slate magazine. To take a grab from the first slide:

This year is the 50th anniversary of Helvetica, the ubiquitous sans-serif font that some have called the official typeface of the 20th century. Even if you don't know its name, you'll probably recognize its face. Helvetica is everywhere. It's been used in countless corporate logos, including those of American Airlines, Sears, Target, Toyota, BMW, Tupperware, Nestlé, ConEd, Verizon, North Face, Staples, Panasonic, Evian, Crate and Barrel, and the Gap. You can spot it on billboards, album covers, and directional signs, including all the signage in the New York City subway system. Even the IRS uses Helvetica for its income tax forms. ...

Now, the typeface is the subject of a small exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art centering around an original set of Helvetica lead type donated to the museum by Lars Müller, designer and publisher of the 2005 book Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface.

Worthwhile reading the text with the slides. Have a look.

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