In Defense of Helvetica

I just read a fitting comparison of type and food in connection with Helvetica.

To me Helvetica feels to typography a bit like Japanese white rice feels to traditional Japanese cuisine. That is, on its own it may seem pretty bland to most people. […] Yet, as a balanced complement to all other elements in a washoku meal, rice is truly a delicious and harmonious amplifier of the entire culinary experience. Helvetica is a bit like this in that the typeface is a great complement to other design elements on a page or poster or slide, etc. Helvetica is a great amplifier of clarity without drawing attention to its own form. (source)

The writer may have had the different elements of a layout in mind, but the metaphor fits the task of combining typefaces with Helvetica just as adequately (I don’t know about the last point though) (and his others).

What keeps puzzling me: why do I feel like I have to defend Helvetica since that Helvetica Forever project? Paying attention to mentions like this, continuously giving advice on how to use it. I didn’t even liked H before. Now, as soon as you know so much about a topic, you can’t really hate it anymore …

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One Comment

  1. Posted 30. August 2009 at 11:06 | Permalink

    »Ein Mensch, den man leicht übersieht. Ein zuverlässiger Mitarbeiter. Ein zuverlässiger Vater. Ein mäßiger Liebhaber. Sicher evangelisch. Ein scheinbar funktionierendes Rad im Getriebe. Einer wie alle. Ganz plötzlich wurde an diesem Morgen das Normale zum Ungeheuer. Ich musste an Helvetica denken.« — just to add something more polemic, sorry. (by Klaus Hesse in ›der Helvetica Mann‹, typeset in Meta!)

    I never saw Helvetica as an amplifier, more as a middleman between composition, shapes and other design elements. Amplifier, cool. I’ll remember that!

    (and of course does it draw attention to its form, everything does. maybe not because its named Helvetica, but because of the amount of blackness [in f.e. the black weight in huge sizes, as seen often], the contrast of round/edgy shapes et cetera)

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