The Null Device

50 years of Helvetica

This year is the 50th anniversary of Helvetica, the sans-serif typeface which was designed by Swiss typographer Max Miedinger in 1957 and has since become ubiquitous, and synonymous with a very Swiss modernist aesthetic: clean, fastidious and businesslike, if perhaps somewhat bland:
As Wildenberg notes, its Swissness is part of the appeal. The land where clocks run meticulously and the streets are spotless carries the kind of cultural resonance that the logo makers and brand masters of the major corporations might like a bit of. For others, its neutrality is a platform for daring design.
Some love it (there is a glossy coffee-table book and a documentary for its anniversary), while others hate it. Among the haters is designer and typographer Neville Brody, who was responsible for a lot of its use in the 1980s:
"When people choose Helvetica they want to fit in and look normal. They use Helvetica because they want to be a member of the efficiency club. They want to be a member of modernism. They want to be a member of no personality. It also says bland, unadventurous, unambitious."
Though while Helvetica is not universally loved, it is nowhere near as despised as that idiot of the typographical village, Comic Sans

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