Originally “Die Neus Haas Grotesk”, it is, in essence, the neutral font. The jack of all fonts. Because of its sharp, clear lines and plain design, it can be used for nearly anything. Advertisements. Logos. The government uses it for its forms. It appears in graphic design everywhere. In fact, it was so popular that eventually the designers started asking themselves, “how can I do this without using Helvetica?” It was designed to be modern, legible, and flexible. Those qualities have certainly held themselves up very well since its invention in 1957.
Now, how many people would be excited to watch a documentary film about Helvetica? …probably not too many—however, I honestly enjoyed it. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I really got interested in learning how the typeface came about, and how it was used and its different contexts. I wouldn’t have guessed it was influenced by Swiss graphic design, of all places, or that its name came from the Latin word for Switzerland. The differing narrators kept me from getting bored; hearing about their different experiences with Helvetica and design in general spiced up the giant wave of information about the font itself. Unfortunately, the focus on the font kept me from really learning who they were- I don’t think I could name any of the people who were in it. I suppose that it makes since, given the film is about the font, not the people talking about it.