The wonderful world of ‘Helvetica’.

This was a very informative week. We had to absorb a lot of information on typography. Of all of the design skills to master to become a good designer, typography was always the hardest for me. I believe the reason for this lies in the generation in which I entered design. I am a millennial, and my first real exposure to design came from digital interfaces. I learned to do a layout on design software. I never spent the hours setting type in a printing press, absorbing the fumes of the various inks, or choosing the best paper.

I never sat in a room of a magazine publisher, manually laying out images and copying and measuring margins columns, and gutters with rulers and picas. I never learned that serifs make reading easier and that typography was around way before the Roman empire. I never engaged in heated debates about modernism and postmodernism, vs grunge. I do however appreciate good design, I have been blessed with the instinct to recognize good work.

The documentary on ‘Helvetica’ was done rather well. I enjoyed watching it and getting a sense of how popular it became. In my professional career, I worked at two major companies that used it extensively. Even at IBM, prior to Mike Abbink’s IBM Sans revolution. Helvetica was in the DNA of everything we produced. The one thing that I had to mention though was when they mentioned “MySpace” towards the end. I almost lost it!

It will interesting to see what is next. Will we have a new king emerge, or will be different become the new standard in the post-digital era of design.

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