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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.
Skill Level Appropriate for all
(calm music) - [Rick] Type is saying things to us all the time, typefaces express a mood, an atmosphere, they give words a certain coloring.
- [Michael] Everywhere you look you see typefaces but there's probably one you see more than any other one and that's Helvetica, you know, there it is and it sorta just seems to come from nowhere. It seems like air, it seems like gravity. - [Jonathan] And it's hard to evaluate it, it's like being asked what you think about off white paint, it's just there and it's hard to get your head around, its that big. - [Erik] Most people who use Helvetica, use it because it's ubiquitous. It's like going to McDonald's instead of thinking about food. Because it's there, it's on every street corner, so let's eat crap because it's on the corner.
- [Michael C.] For me Helvetica's just this beautiful, timeless thing. And certain things shouldn't be messed with, you know? - [Rick] Graphic Design is the communication framework through which these messages about what the world is now, and what we should aspire to. It's the way they reach us. The designer has an enormous responsibility. Those are the people, you know, putting their wires into our heads.