Today’s typography topic has to do with typefaces that have remained in the public eye for over half a century or more, whether we’re aware of it or not. What am I talking about exactly? Classic, modern typefaces, in particular, typefaces from the International Typographic Style era in graphic design.
The first font to discuss is the most popular if not the most controversial one designed in that era. Helvetica was designed in 1957 by Swiss type designer Max Miedinger. It quickly became one of the most widely used fonts of the time for it’s smooth, geometric, versatile look. Today, it is used everywhere, especially for branding and street signs. Some designers love it, even committing to using only Helvetica in their work. Others hate Helvetica, deeming it to be boring and overly used; playing it safe so to speak.
I personally love Helvetica. It has many uses and has a “cool” timeless look to it. It especially goes well with solid colors and geometric shapes and patterns. While I don’t use it in my personal designs that often, there is always a time and a place to use Helvetica.
The next font, also a largely popular one, is Futura. Designed in 1927 by Paul Renner, Futura is a go-to font for many designers. Aaron Draplin, who created the Field Notes notebook series, and filmmaker Wes Anderson, are known for using Futura in their work. Draplin is partial to Futura Condensed Bold, while Anderson sticks to the basic version of Futura.
Futura is a sans serif geometric font. Because of this, it has a very distinct look, being inspired by triangles and circles in order to create its letterforms. Designers of the Bauhaus school of art also liked to use Futura for this reason. This typeface is so popular today because it has a nostalgic feel, reminiscent of the ’50s and ’60s, partly because of it’s association with Wes Anderson films. Like Helvetica, some designers argue that it is too overused, that it is too much of a “go-to” font. However, looking at designs that feature Futura, it’s no wonder that it’s such a popular font. It’s hip, it has many style variations; Renner knew exactly what he was doing when he designed Futura.
The last typeface that has stood the test of time, another one of my favorites, is Univers. Univers was designed in 1954 by Adrian Frutiger. It was one of the first typefaces that had a family of numerous, consistent styles, thus being influential to the design of future typefaces. Today, it is used mostly in signage and logos.
Univers is one of my favorite typefaces because of all the styles it has, meaning it can be used for a variety of projects, especially editorial work. You can choose multiple levels of boldness, whether or not you want the type to be condensed, and whether or not you want it to be italicized or “oblique.”
So, what is the significance of these three typefaces? They’ve stood the test of time. They were designed in the early to mid 20th century, and are still being used today. As a graphic designer, timelessness is the ultimate goal, especially in the design of logos. Taking influence from these typefaces and their creators, I hope to design things that people will remember; things that will stay relevant. If my designs are recognizable, then my number one goal will have been achieved.