The Combination of Simplicity with Creativity: Helvetica

A delicate flower should find a breathe against all the fancy and embellished figures. With its smooth lines, Helvetica combined the beauty with the modern sensibilities of the future. After its creation, it has gained its identity and has survived through sixty years. And in this sixtieth anniversary, it is significant to touch upon our typeface’s brief background and memorialize its creator.We all drink our morning coffee before starting a day. We walk around the streets, try new clothes. We want to buy a new car. We eat our chocolates, turn on our televisions. Have you ever thought what makes up our minds? We live in a world where we are surrounded by the advertisements that are seen to us in the streets, schools, offices and even at our homes. Some people are even not aware of the purposes of these advertisements. They don’t even think how they were created or more importantly, why they are attracted by those posters. Of course there has to be some creative minds for bringing their visual aspects to the life. However, most of us are not even aware that one of the most important part of those designs are constituted by the letters on them. Thus, naturally as the living creatures that have highly an inclination to feel beauty, humans do not want to strain their eyes with some pompous, complex and banal typefaces. Having been affected by them, Max Miedinger, Swiss designer, created a simple but effective typeface named “Helvetica”.

Glimmering of the Moonlight

Max Miedinger decided to become a freelance designer after he worked as a typographer in Globe and a representative in Haas Type Foundry. He was asked to create a clear typeface by Eduard Hoffman, head of Haas Type Foundry. The new typeface was wanted to compete with Akzidenz-Grostesk that was so popular in the Swiss markets back then.​​​​​​​

Inventing a Light Bulb in Ancient Times

Miedinger was supposed to give a birth to a typeface in a world that was still trying to survive after the World War II and Cold War. In the middle of the 20th century, there was a society which was recovering from the affects of the war. People were in the middle of everything, they did not know what to do, what to choose or what to trust. As if it was symbolizing both the trauma, sickness of the war and hope of the new, exciting life; Helvetica was born between traditionalism and modernism. It both bore some traces from the past and tried to escape from the oddness of history.

Rise of its Popularity

We all know that the most aesthetic designs are coming from the simple forms. Just as the fact that you will create more legible work with the simpler fonts, if you are a reader, you should not feel that your eyes cannot follow your book just because of the form the author has chosen. Being between conservative and modern, having elegancy but also safety, Helvetica soon became a highly preferable option. It is able to be fit into each signage where legibility is the key. It is easy and confident to use Helvetica since it allows you to stay in your comfort zone while producing originality. It helps both the designer and onlooker not to distract from what they see. Its ability to convey clarity without any barrier makes it more attractive and helps the person who looks to see what they should from a logo.

An Alternative Version of Helvetica

Besides having many special features, Helvetica had also some disadvantages. Though it was highly preferable in the field of design, its legibility in a text was difficult. After its first appearance, the typeface was required to be used for the small texts. As it was hard to read its characters in smaller letters, a problem arose. Even Paul Rand himself advised his students to use Helvetica only as a display, not in a text. From the need of more breath, Neue Helvetica Ultra Light was born with some developments.In many of the perspectives, Helvetica was a typeface of neutrality without any intrinsic meaning. Well, comparing to its worldwide recognition, it’s almost impossible to say that it has no meaning. If a designer creates something that is able to survive through 60 years, he should have designed something so profound that it has managed to influence all human beings. It is so absurd to say that an artist creates a work and it is neutral. Something that has carried its artist’s features and has found lives in each person who used this typeface can be everything but neutral. Eventually, there is nothing created in this world which can be defined as having no characteristic.

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