Helvetica Forever: Story of a Typeface

Helvetica Forever: Story of a Typeface

Helvetica Forever: Story of a Typeface

By Lars Muller


Designed in 1957, the Helvetica font is an icon of Swiss graphic design, a model of sober, functional communication throughout the world in the 1950s and 60s. The balanced and neutral appearance of Helvetica forgoes a high degree of expressivity, a quality that is both criticized and admired. This polarization has helped to gain unparalleled notoriety. Helvetica is far and away from the most widely used of all typefaces; according to a survey by the Berliner Fontshop-Archiv, it tops the list of the hundred best fonts of all time. This publication retraces Helvetica s fifty-year history, compares it to the well-known sans serif fonts of the twentieth century, and examines the phenomenon of its unparalleled spread. Numerous illustrations show how the font has been used in five decades from a wide variety of fields, from signal design to party flyers.

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