Helvetica was created in 1957. It was named the Swiss style. As you look around at every day life, you will find time after time, that the typeface that is most prevalent is that of Helvetica. After viewing the film named the same, it was evident that although the vast majority of those interviewed were in favor, and some times in awe of Helvetica, there are still issues and controversy surrounding its use.
Many interviews, such as Massimo Vignelli, were indeed excited about the typeface. He explained that it had rightness about it; that the spaces between the letters were just as bold and important as the black. Proponents of Helvetica sight that the typeface is expressive, clear and legible. Some explained that it was good for “everything”.
Michael Bierut may have explained it best with his description of the late 50’s or early 60’s when many corporations where changing over their current ads and brochures to Helvetica. He described a scene where a company would feel as if they were drinking a cold, crisp glass of water after seeing what their new logo would look like in Helvetica.
Helvetica is the contemporary typeface of corporations, of science and many other industries as well. It has an ability to fit the style you wish to project. It was explained in the video, that when American Outfitters used it, it looks chic; when Crate and Barrel uses it, Helvetica appears clean and efficient. The video goes on to describe Helvetica as having a perfect balance of push and pull. It makes you believe it’s clean, it fits in, it won’t make you stand out.
But not everyone is on the Helvetica bandwagon. Others are morally apposed to the typeface. Paula Schuler is one of them. When she first started a career in design, it was shortly after the end of the Vietnam War. She associated Helvetica with the evil corporations that were sponsoring the war. In her way of thinking, if you used Helvetica, you were supporting the
However, other views were shown in the video that also apposed the frequent use of Helvetica. It was explained that typography should have personality and that we need to get away from the horrible slickness of Helvetica. We need vitality. Helvetica represented modernism which they say equals boring. As you can see, there is a fine line between simple, clean, and powerful and simple, clean, and boring.
Whether or not you are for or against the use of Helvetica, it won’t be going away anything soon. We see it so often, that we don’t even realize we see it. It is in our print, on our walls, TV’s, and movies. Our records are labeled with it, our posters scream it. Like it or not, it is hear to stay; it is “unfixable”.