One thing that I found interesting about the documentary on Helvetica is how some designers felt that it was overused after a few years, whereas some designers were loyal Helvetica worshipers to this day. I have never seen a documentary that touched on the criticism of Helvetica before and to me it was a fresh opinion that definitely needed to be addressed. I understand that when Helvetica came out it was this fresh, modern, exciting typeface that changed everything about design, but at the same time I agree that it has been drastically overused. Just watching the b-roll in the documentary of all the examples of Helvetica in the real world, I was sitting there thinking to myself “Is anything NOT written in Helvetica these days?”

Maybe it’s my unexperienced designer eye, but I honestly don’t see what’s so great about it anymore. There are other perfectly good typefaces that look similar to Helvetica and have a similar effect. I think Helvetica is more famous for being the first typeface of it’s kind rather than being famous for long-term usability. Yes, at the time transitioning everything into Helvetica was desperately needed; but at this point in design’s history I kind of want to say “So what’s the big deal about Helvetica anymore?”.

The one part of the documentary that really personified this idea of thinking for me, was the part with the designer who uses typefaces that are very similar to handwriting and are messy and unorganized on the page. To me, that is becoming the new modern rather than the “having a place for everything and everything being in it’s place” attitude that Helvetica screams. I think that we are moving into a more abstract form of “modern design” and Helvetica will no longer be the modern norm of typefaces. Helvetica will always be a significant step in the history of design, but I think it’s time is over.

-Erica F.


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