IN THE CLASSROOM: HELVETICA





This week's 'In the Classroom' focuses on the movie 'Helvetica'. Directed by Gar Hustwit, 'Helvetica' is a 2007 documentary about the famous, ubiquitous, iconic typeface 'Helvetica'. The typeface was originally known as 'Neue Haas Grotesk' but changed to 'Helvetica' (a version of the latin word for Switzerland) to appeal to a broader audience.

Some info from the website:

Helvetica was developed by Max Miedinger with Ed√ľard Hoffmann in 1957 for the Haas Type Foundry in M√ľnchenstein, Switzerland. In the late 1950s, the European design world saw a revival of older sans-serif typefaces such as the German face Akzidenz Grotesk. Haas' director Hoffmann commissioned Miedinger, a former employee and freelance designer, to draw an updated sans-serif typeface to add to their line. The result was called Neue Haas Grotesk, but its name was later changed to Helvetica, derived from Helvetia, the Latin name for Switzerland, when Haas' German parent companies Stempel and Linotype began marketing the font internationally in 1961.

Introduced amidst a wave of popularity of Swiss design, and fueled by advertising agencies selling this new design style to their clients, Helvetica quickly appeared in corporate logos, signage for transportation systems, fine art prints, and myriad other uses worldwide. Inclusion of the font in home computer systems such as the Apple Macintosh in 1984 only further cemented its ubiquity.
The movie is really undeniably fun. There are interviews with some of the greatest type designers in the world--Massimo Vignelli and Erik Spiekermann were my favorites--many of whom are pretty hilarious. I can promise: after watching this movie you will never look at typefaces, particularly Helvetica, the same again!

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