Helpvetica - Can Typography Save the World?

by Saul Edmonds
die neue-web.jpg

Title: “Die Neue’ by G.L

A Hope in Hel(vetica)

  • To help is to contribute, promote or cause improvement in
  • Make some one/ thing better

Helvetica : A Modern Story (of Moderism)

Today Helvetica is an iconic font. Back then it was 1957. Switzerland. Sleek lines and a simple geometric aesthetic informed the design of a new typeface by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann originally known only as ‘Die Neue Haas Grotesk’. Until a decision was made in 1960 to change the name. Helvetica is Latin for Swiss.

Thus was a Superfont born

“With great power there must also come great responsibility.” (Spider-Man August 1962)

A typeface with a modern attitude

Out of postwar Europe, Helvetica represented an optimistic new future.

Here, type would be neutral/ adaptable/ bold/ direct. A culture of mathematics and grid. The ‘New Type’ : a simple yet powerful industrial age vehicle for rigorous objectivity in the dissemination of information and communication. Truth, accuracy, correctness, exactitude.

Helvetica is all this

‘The meaning is in the content of the text and not in the typeface.’ (Wim Crouwel)

Politics and Hypography

Historically, typography is a barometer for changing cultural and economic paradigms. Consider Paul Renner (Futura designer) arrested by the Nazis in 1933 - Renner only released after a direct plea to Hitler from Rudolf Hess - / the revolutionary constructivism of Soviet graphic design circa 1922 / the 1996 release of Verdana bundled with Windows OS.

The influence of the font in the urban environment is all pervasive. The relentless visual repetition of typographic selections / stimuli / semiotics. Perception is the process of perceiving. See it.

Culture is Language

Language is embodied in type / hype / hypography

  • Superfont in the Urban Environment
  • Can Helvetica save the world?
  • Do we need it to?

Helvetica has an aesthetic order that offers a clarity of form to our technologically evolving culture. Although a hallmark of modernist Swiss design, it remains ideologically relevant to our own ‘machine age’. Neutral lines enhance readability and communication. A clear message. That’s a good thing. Simplicity. Also good. Content is King. Yes.

Is the functional modernity of Helvetica a font for our times? Can our visions for a better future be best expressed with this typeface? Tell us your thoughts.

by Saul Edmonds