Join Gary Hustwit for an in-depth discussion in this video Berlin and Erik Spiekermann, part of Helvetica.
I'm obviously a type of maniac which is an incurable, if not mortal, disease.
I can't explain that, I just like looking at type, I just can't totally kick out of it, they are my friends you know. Other people look at bottles of wine or whatever, or you know, girl's bottoms. I get kicks out of looking at type. It's a little worrying, I must admit, but it's a nerdish thing to do. I'm very much a word person. So, that's why topography for me is the obvious extension, it just makes my word visible. A real typeface needs rhythm, needs contrast, it comes from handwriting. And that's why I can read your handwriting and you can read mine. And I'm sure our handwriting is miles away from helvetica or, or anything that would be considered legible.
But we can read it because there's a rhythm to it, there's a contrast to it. Helvetica hasn't got any of that. >> Why, 50 years later, is it still so popular. >> I don't know, why is bad taste, should be good as no, it's actually. Helvetica was a good type for the time, it really answered a demand but now, it's become one of those defaults that. Partly because of the proliferation of the computer, which is now 20 years, the PC I mean, it was the, it was the default on the Apple Macintosh and then it became the default on Windows which copied everything that Apple did as you know.
It defies everything else and then the clone version, Arial, which is worse than Helvetica but. I think now it's probably, it's never going to go away because it is ubiquitous, it's a default, it's, it's air, it's just there, I mean, there's no choice. You have to breathe, so you have to use Helvetica. It brings every for instance, it has a certain, well, it's like a person you know, if you, if you were slightly heavier than you're not going to walk around in tight T-shirts. You look an idiot, and card is heavy in the middle so it has a certain, it needs certain space around it, it needs a little white space, it needs it very carefully.
To we looked at, at the white gradations, it has no, it needs an autospace sideways also. That is very legibly built and very small and very tightly done, and very lightly, as motor designers say, it's a nightmare, it's a total nightmare. I wouldn't say this if I hadn't tried it, you know. Some, because all the letters that is the ideology, the, the guy who designed it tried to make all the letters look the same. Hello you know that's going to be an army, that's not people. This people having the same fucking helmet on, doesn't further the individual on the aim on types there on it always to, make it individually enough so that is its interesting but of course 95% of any alphabet has to look at the other alphabet otherwise he would be able to read it.
I've never sort of woken up with a typeface coming on, you know, like some people going to do this and they have to, you know, go to their whatever, their easel and you know, these are major brush strokes. I don't have that urge, you know I, I wake up and I usually and I always go back to sleep. I mean, everybody puts their history into their work. And I certainly know that when I draw something, it, it, it has, I'm, I'm, I'm sort of, I'm, I'm fast, I'm loud, I'm chaotic. I'm not very rule based, even though I'm German and I love rules, but I'm, I'm way too cool, I mean, I'm a Gemini, my birthday was yesterday, so, I'm all over the place, essentially.
I'm always on time, but I'm always, but, but a year late, you know what I mean? So it's, but then I'm on, on, on the second. So I have this, this, this horrible thing in it which looks, which comes out of my typefaces. They are never perfect, they always have a little edge in, in the set that I'll leave them alone when I get bored with them. I know there's people who hate me, who would never use my typeface in a million years. and, and vice-versa, people would use any type as I design not because it's good for them or it, it fits the purpose, simply because, I did it. And, I think we all do that. I mean there are certain bands I'll buy every CD from them even though some of, some of them are crap.
But, I'll buy them because I've always but their CD's or their music. Why do people buy certain things? The brand rubs off on them. And typeface is other brand. When you're telling an audience this is for you, by using a certain topographic of voice. You know you would recognize a Marlboro brand two miles away, because they use a type face that they only use. You can buy it, I have it anybody contact anybody can buy it. But Marlboro has made that typeface their's. You can recognize any Marlboro ad, from miles away because of that stupid typeface. If they use Helvetica, hello it wouldn't quite work.
The documentary explores urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and offers a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type. Helvetica encompasses the worlds of design, advertising, psychology, and communication, and invites us to take a second look at the thousands of words we see every day. Interviewees in Helvetica include some of the most illustrious and innovative names in the design world, including Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, Massimo Vignelli, Wim Crouwel, Hermann Zapf, Neville Brody, Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Bierut, David Carson, Paula Scher, Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones, Experimental Jetset, Michael C. Place, Norm, Alfred Hoffmann, Mike Parker, Bruno Steinert, Otmar Hoefer, Leslie Savan, Rick Poynor, Lars Müller, and many more.
Make sure to watch the bonus features included in the Extras chapter for more insights from these designers.