Join Gary Hustwit for an in-depth discussion in this video Experimental Jetset, part of Helvetica.
For us modernism does have more subversive side.
I think that whole image of modernism is something that is primarily concerned with functionalism utilitarianism, that is something that emerged much later that's is a more, a late Modernist thing or something. I think the early Modernist movements like Dadaism, Futurism, Surrealism that sort of things all had there more subversive sides and are more Yeah, I do you call it? The more, you know, the sides or the vent against something.
It's not that we are against that experimentation that people such as David Carson and, and Emmy Clay, and you think, what you do is sort of extension of that, all that hunting to the next typeface every time, it took a lot of energy. And, I can still remember students that you were really disappointed because you wanted to use a sort of typeface and then saw somebody else used it and then you couldn't use it because you wanted to be original, and with Helvetica this whole point is nonexistent because everybody is using Helvetica.
A lot of people see the way the a young generation of designers use a typeface such as Helvetica as a more superficial way, as a sort of appropriation of a style. I think we, we would very much disagree with that. I think all three of us grew up in the 70s in the Netherlands. This was dominated by the left moment of late modernism. For example the city I was born and, and grew up Rotterdam, that logo type was designed by Wim Crouwel. The stems were designed by Crouwel, the telephone book was designed by Crouwel, the atlas that he used at school was designed by Crouwel.
So, for us it is almost like a sort of natural mother tongue, that's something really natural, it's not that we. I mean a lot of people think you, you sort of study it from books and then copy it or something. But I, I, I would really say that it, it's almost in our blood. It's also funny because a lot of people connect Helvetica sometimes with the sort of dangers of globalization and standardization. I'm not afraid for that quality at all because I just know that everybody can put their own twist on it.
I think that you can put as much nationality in the, in the spacing of a typeface as in a typeface itself or something and I think the way people like Crouwel used Helvetica, it's strictly Dutch, I think. And, and, and that why I'm, I'm never really impressed by the, by the sort of argument that Helvetica is this sort of global monster.
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.