Category Archives: Less Talk

/// LESS TALK, MORE TYPE • HELVETICA

Helvetica-typeface-font

In the graphic design community, typefaces are always a hot topic. We can nerd out on ligatures and how well a font is kerned for hours. Ask a gaggle of designers what their favorite font is, and I can almost guarantee that many will say Helvetica. This is the Kate Middleton of fonts. It even has it’s own movie! So what makes it so special?

A little history

The story of Helvetica begins in 1956 in the Swiss town of Münchenstein. Max Miedinger was hired by Haas to draw a typeface that would dislodge a popular family, which was one of Haas’s competitors. Miedinger, who was an artist and graphic designer, came up with a design and by the summer of 1957, had produced a new sans serif typeface. It was given the name “Neue Haas Grotesk.” Simply translated, this meant “New Haas Sans Serif.” The Stempel type foundry, the parent company of Haas, decided to offer the design to its customers in Germany. The only problem was that it was difficult to market a new typeface under another foundry’s name. The two companies agreed on “Helvetica,” which was a close approximation of “Helvetia,” the Latin name for Switzerland. And clearly, the name stuck.

Characteristics & references

The main feature of Helvetica is it’s tall x-height. This makes the font easy to read even in small sizes. This is a big reason designers love it. It follows the principle that type should communicate clearly. Period. Helvetica has been used in every graphic design and branding project imaginable, including the branding of American Apparel and The North Face. The desire for distinguished, modern typography has been around for ages and, as Helvetica has shown, it’s not going anywhere. Cue designer exhale.

 

/// LESS TALK, MORE TYPE • DIDOT

Less-Talk-More-Type-Didot

Typefaces bleed into our everyday life, though often go unnoticed as a we scan newspapers, magazines, labels and on and on. So many typefaces were designed for a certain purpose. What we often forget is that typefaces and lettering are often a matter functionality AND style. And Didot takes style seriously.

A little history

Didot is part of a group of typefaces that were named after a French printing and type producing family. In the early 1800s, the Didot family was the Steve Jobs of print and font foundries. The fonts they designed included Didot, Linotype Didot, Firmin Didot, Didot LP and Initiales Grecques. Firmin Didot cut the letters and his brother Pierre Didot used the types in printing. Never before had a typeface had such varying stroke weights, which gave it a classical and elegant feel with a modern twist.

Characteristics & references

Didot’s essential trait is its high and abrupt contrast between thick and thin strokes. This is why it maintains it’s chic feel today and can be seen all over the fashion world. Didot is used in logos for both VOGUE and Harpers BAZAAR. Watch most make-up or skincare commercials and you’ll see it’s their primary font. It’s used in brand logos for the likes of Zara, Guess and Giorgio Armani. Talk about sophisticated. Overall, the reason Didot is a typeface champ is because it strikes an impressive balance between strength and femininity, modernity and classical refinement. Plus it’s French – no wonder it’s so chic.

 

/// LESS TALK, MORE TYPE – FUTURA

futura-font-designer

For this installment of Less Talk, More Type, I’m calling out my #bestie, Futura. This is often my go-to font, and one that was a big inspiration for my own brand. Futura is in the top three of the most widely used fonts. That’s an impressive standing when you think of how many fonts exist today. What might be more impressive is its lack of recognizability when used properly.

This is always a secret designer challenge: using a font because it can stand alone in it’s greatness, but incorporating it into a brand to make it fit well enough that it becomes less recognizable as a font, and instead, becomes associated with the brand. Case in point? Both Best Buy and Louis Vuitton use Futura in their logos.*Whoa*

Futura is a fast friend of mine because it’s easy to read, works well in print and on screen, plus it’s modern and classy. Unlike it’s slutty sans-serif cousin, Helvetica ( that font gets around… ), it’s not on over-used and cliche.

Futura was born when type designer, Paul Renner, wanted to create a typeface with the principles of the Bauhaus philosophy ( functional, modern and geometric emphasis ), and get rid of any unnecessary frills. His final design has the crisp, clean appearance that make up the hallmark attributes of Futura.

So what do you think? Do you see Futura in your future? ( I’m so sorry… )

 

Popular Posts