Helvetica – a documentary film by Gary Hustwit




Last night I went out to see “Helvetica“, a film about the font we all know so well. One of the art directors who spoke said Helvetica was like off-white paint… it’s just there. It’s permeated our entire culture and life. It’s like air or breathing. You can’t get away from it. Helvetica. And I thought that was so true.

I found the film really inspiring. The film maker did a great job interviewing different designers on both sides of the Helvetica fence: those who loved it (the only font they used) and those who refused to use it because it wasn’t expressive enough for them. And it showed a ton of examples of the font in action, which I guess I’ve never really thought about before. But the font can do so much. It’s a hard-working little font. :)

The history behind Helvetica as a font was fascinating too. It’s celebrating it’s 50th birthday, which is why the film was created. But it was born in Switzerland, and the name Helvetica actually means: Swiss font. Brought about because designers wanted something universal and clean and upstanding and socially responsible after all the wiggly, hand-written design of the 50′s. Helvetica was positive and no-nonsense. A refreshing look at things.

I’m sure I’m not doing the film justice, so if you have a chance, see it for yourself. You just might be inspired to ditch all your other fonts and have a wonderful, long-lasting monogamous relationship with Helvetica. (or not).

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Posted by admin on 08/09/07 under video
1 Comment

  • http://www.ramahughes.com rama

    this post reminds me ~ and i hope you take this the right way ~ of my habit of looking at the names on drain covers and pipes and wondering whose name that is and if that pipe or drain cover was the culmination of someone’s dream come true. “look, look at the little pipo! it’s got my name on it!”

    there’s a story behind everything! man-made or otherwise.

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