“Helvetica” was a really interesting film. The most intriguing part was the fact that when different expert designers weighed in on the famed typeface, they all had different opinions about it. This seems obvious, but at the beginning of the documentary, helvetica was being portrayed as this super typeface that could do no harm. It was supposedly a “one-size-fits-all” sort of magic typeface that could do anything, and everyone used it because of that.

But then the film took a turn, designers started hating on helvetica, comparing it to an overweight person and declaring that it caused both the Vietnam War and the conflict in Iraq.

It’s weird how in general a person can create a typeface that is disliked by other designers. I wouldn’t normally say that. I know how important opinion is when factoring in aesthetic appeal and taste, but most typefaces are created with the goal of making type easier and more appealing than whatever the current standard is. I think it’s weird that designers could spend all their time creating a new and innovative typeface and have their contemporaries call it ugly (or even grotesque!) like Baskerville and Didot were, even though they were clear improvements in legibility and readability. I guess anything that’s truly new and innovative will always be at least a little ahead of its time.


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