Join Gary Hustwit for an in-depth discussion in this video Graphic design in the 1950s, part of Helvetica.
The 1950s is an interesting period in the development of graphic design. In that post-war period, after the horror and the cataclysm of the second world war. There's a real feeling of idealism among some designers. Many perhaps, across the world. Certainly in Europe. The design is part of that need to rebuild, to reconstruct. To make things more open. Make them run more smoothly.
Be more democratic. There, there was this real sense of social responsibility among designers. And this is the period when the early experiments of the high modernist period start to be broken down. Rationalized, codified. You get the emergence of this so called international typographic style. Or Swiss style. And it's Swiss designers in 1950s who are really driving that along. This is where Helvetica comes in.
Helvetica emerges in that period in 1957. Where there's felt to be a need for rational typefaces. Which can be applied to all kinds of contemporary information. Whether it's sign systems or corporate identity. And present those visual expressions of the modern world to the public, in an intelligible, legible way. So it's underpinned, is what I'm saying. By this great feeling shared by many designers of idealism.
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.