Wednesday, May 20, 2009


On a recent visit to London's Design Museum [which if you're ever planning on visiting, don't. Save your £8.50 and go to the gift shop instead], a friend of mine and I agreed that the only thing remotely exciting about the museum were the stark white walls with occasional directions painted in gigantic, Helvetican text. "WOMEN'S" was definitely a fave, as was "EXIT".

Even though that was the most exciting part about the museum, I couldn't help but feel that that was also the most dated. Negative space has been huge in graphic design across the last 10 years; minimalist styles always seem to go hand in hand with some sort of Helvetica Bold / Helvetica Neue / Helvetica Neue Black Condensed / Neue Bold Condensed combo. Helvetica essentially is the Starbucks of the font families. Uber trendy, functional and would probably own a home in the Beaches if it could afford one, you can order your Venti Helvetica Neue Ultra Light, and bold it if you're feeling a little bit on the gluttonous side. But one has to ask, with over fifty years of use, when will Helvetica be done with being the trendy trend?

So far there are no signs of the font slowing down [the signs written in Helvetica themselves], so we might as well give in to the celebration. Our own TA2 logo is in Helvetica [shames, shames], I've also named my first born after the font*, and the truth is is that there just ain't a font out there as purty.

* I'm lying a terrible lie, but Helvetica Fletcher does have a certain ring to it.

So here goes the celebration of Helvetica! Because without it, the Design Museum would just have white walls [which wouldn't be a bad thing, considering the rest of their exhibits]:

Lars Muller's 2005 book on the typeface showcases over 400 uses of the font. For more info, click here.

Gary Hustwit's feature length documentary coincided with the 50th anniversary of the font in 2007. Learn more here.

Photo of the Design Museum from The Curated Object.

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