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Helvetica is dead!

Gerry Leonidas
October 20, 2016

Helvetica is dead!

From the point when typefaces became independent commercial products, myth and constructed identities have been integral parts of every successful design. No other typeface exemplifies this as well as Helvetica. While meaningful a few decades ago, the excessive use of the typeface in recent years make it very clear that its time has passed: it works badly for our typesetting needs, and will perform even worse in the coming years. The documents and environments we use today have exceeded the design space of Helvetica: a new concept for a sans family is needed. Indeed, many designers are placing bets on what the next phase in the development of sans serifs will be. Speaking from a typographic perspective, Gerry shows why Helvetica as we know it is bankrupt, and lay out a blueprint for a competent typeface family to replace it. He may be showing some good candidates.

Gerry Leonidas

October 20, 2016
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  1. Helvetica est mort!
    Gerry Leonidas

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  2. materiality community
    memory
    typemaking

    typesetting
    distribution

    networks
    content

    creation

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  3. Document structures
    Technology of reproduction
    Friction surrounding innovation

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  4. • investment to start
    • risk of using tools
    • risk for deltas
    • risk of distribution
    • risk of marketing
    risk = time + effort + opportunity cost

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  5. Stable documents 

    and expensive, slow technologies 

    favour stable type styles 

    with long lives, and 

    marginal variations

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  6. Dynamic reading environments 

    and cheap/free technologies 

    enable experimentation in styles

    and a volatile, 

    supply-driven market

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  7. 1900 1953
    1919 1968
    1933 2000 2016
    1985

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  8. http://futurehrtrends.eiu.com/report-2015/profile-of-the-global-workforce-present-and-future/

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  9. Modernity was debunked 

    a generation ago

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  10. [a reminder on modularity]

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  11. [insert boring slide with:
    - OEM fonts
    - Frutiger and its endless clones
    - most OFL bloated character sets]

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  12. fidelity originality
    typographic competence
    traditionalism modernity

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  13. ONE THOUSAND AND ONE ARABIAN NIGHTS WHEN IT WAS THE THIRTY-EIGHTH NIGHT...
    he came upon. The Caliph also pulled off his person two vests of
    Alexandrian and Ba’lbak silk, a loose inner robe and a long-sleeved
    outer coat, and said to the fisherman, “Take them and put them
    on,” while he assumed the foul gaberdine and filthy turband and
    drew a corner of the head-cloth as a mouth-veil before his face.
    Then said he to the fisherman, “Get thee about thy business!; and
    the man kissed the Caliph’s feet and thanked him and improvised
    the following couplets,
    Thou hast granted more favours than ever I craved;
    Thou hast satisfied needs which my heart enslaved:
    I will thank thee and thank whileas life shall last,
    And my bones will praise thee in grave engraved!
    Hardly had the fisherman ended his verse, when the lice began to
    crawl over the Caliph’s skin, and he fell to catching them on his
    neck with his right and left and throwing them from him, while he
    cried, “O fisherman, woe to thee! what be this abundance of lice
    on thy gaberdine.” “O my lord,” replied he, “they may annoy thee
    just at first, but before a week is past thou wilt not feel them nor
    think of them.” The Caliph laughed and said to him, “Out on thee!
    Shall I leave this gaberdine of thine so long on my body?” Quoth
    the fisherman, “I would say a word to thee but I am ashamed in
    presence of the Caliph!”; and quoth he, “Say what thou hast to say.”
    “It passed through my thought, O Commander of the Faithful,” said
    the fisherman, “that, since thou wishest to learn fishing so thou
    mayest have in hand an honest trade whereby to gain thy livelihood
    27, this my gaberdine besitteth thee right well.” The Commander
    of the Faithful laughed at this speech, and the fisherman went
    his way. Then the Caliph took up the basket of fish and, strewing
    27 - The fisherman alludes to a practice of Al-Islam instituted by Caliph Omar, that
    all rulers should work at some handicraft in order to spare the public treasure.
    Hence Sulatan Mu’ayyad of Cairo was a caligrapher who sold his work and his ex-
    ample was followed by the Turkish Sultans Mahuud Abd al-Majid and Adb al-Aziz.
    German royalties prefer carpentering and Louis XVL watch making.
    Caliph’s wrath hath passed away,” said Ja’afar, and he replied,
    “Yes, ‘tis gone.” Thereupon they descended from the tree, and
    the Caliph said to Ja’afar, “I wish to go in and sit with them and
    hear the damsel sing before me.” “O Commander of the Faithful,”
    replied Ja’afar, “if thou go in to them they will be terribly troubled,
    and Shaykh Ibrahim will assuredly die of fright.” But the Caliph
    answered, “O Ja’afar, thou must teach me some device wherewith
    to delude them and whereby I can foregather with them without
    their knowing me.” So they walked towards the Tigris pondering
    the matter, and presently came upon a fisherman who stood fishing
    under the pavilion windows. Now some time before this, the Caliph
    (being in the pavilion) had called to Shaykh Ibrahim and asked
    him, “What noise is this I hear under the windows?” and he had
    answered, “It is voices of fisher folk catching fish:” so quoth the
    Caliph, “Go down and forbid them this place;” and he forbade
    them accordingly. However that night a fisherman named Karim,
    happening to pass by and seeing the garden gate open, said to
    himself, “This is a time of negligence; and I will take advantage of
    it to do a bit of fishing.” So he took his net and cast it, but he had
    hardly done so when behold, the Caliph come up single-handed
    and, standing hard by, knew him and called aloud to him, “Ho,
    Karim!” The fisherman, hearing himself named, turned round, and
    seeing the Caliph, trembled and his side-muscles quivered, as
    he cried, “By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, I did it not in
    mockery of the mandate; but poverty and a large family drove me
    to what thou seest!” Quoth the Caliph, “Make a cast in my name.”
    At this the fisherman was glad and going to the bank threw his
    net, then waiting till it had spread out at full stretch and settled
    down, hauled it up and found in it various kinds of fish. The Caliph
    was pleased and said, “O Karim, doff thy habit.” So he put off a
    gaberdine of coarse woollen stuff patched in an hundred places
    whereon the lice were rampant, and a turband which had never
    been untwisted for three years but to which he had sown every rag
    142 143

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  14. Hebert Brandl, Peter Vann
    ARCHITECTURE
    NEUE HORIZONTE
    Photo: Gian Marco Castelberg
    Hamburg steht nach der Olympia-Niederlage
    mit blanken Händen da. Die Stadt hat sich
    blamiert. Stimmt das? Richtig ist: Die Spiele
    2024 hätten Hamburg einen enormen
    Entwicklungsschub beschert. Dieser Schub
    hätte viele Mittel an wenigen Orten
    konzentriert, die anderswo fehlen würden.
    gecancelte Planung der Randbebauung
    Tempelhof – selbst ein Großprojekt wie der
    neue Stadtteil Europacity am Hauptbahnhof
    ist dicht gepacktes Mittelmaß, das zum
    normalen Stadtquartier tiefgestapelt wird.
    Hamburg hingegen hat sich in den
    letzten Jahren nicht nur einiges getraut,
    sondern hat dies auch offensiv vertreten.
    Mit dem Doppelpack aus HafenCity und IBA
    Wilhelmsburg gab es eine Balance zwischen
    großen und kleinen Eingriffen, zwischen
    De-luxe-City und sozialem Stadtumbau.
    Die expandierenden Großstädte Deutsch-
    lands werden in Zukunft beides brauchen:
    sichtbare und geduldige Innovationen
    für Stadtquartiere und deren öffentli-
    che Räume, die lange zu kurz gekommen
    sind, aber auch ambitionierte Treiber im
    Sinne eines veränderten Stadtbildes. Die
    langfristige Idee der Hamburger Olym-
    piabewerbung, den Hafen als Bindeglied
    zwischen Nord- und Südstadt umzubauen
    und dafür die Halbinsel Kleiner Grasbrook
    als Katalysator zu verwenden – das kann
    man auch im Rückblick betonen – war
    alles in allem die überzeugendste städte-
    bauliche Idee, die die deutschen Städte
    Leipzig, München, Berlin mit ihren in den
    letzten Jahren in den Sand gesetzten
    Olympia-Bewerbungen zu bieten hatten.
    Die Hamburger Blamage hält sich da
    in Grenzen. In diesem Jahr feiert man in
    Kassel das 60. Jubiläum der documenta,
    der selbsternannten Weltkunstschau, die
    der Maler und Kunstpädagoge Arnold Bode
    1955 ins Leben rief. Angetreten, um der
    kulturell defizitären jungen Bundesrepublik
    westlich internationale Kunstproduktion
    nahezubringen, durchlebte die Institution
    documenta in ihren bislang 13 Auflagen
    zahlreiche kuratorische Anpassungen.
    Eine erste radikale Erweiterung vollzog
    1972 der schweizerische Generalsekretär
    Harald Szeemann mit der documenta 5:
    Befragung der Realität. Das Museum der
    100 Tage wurde zum 100-Tage-Ereignis,
    Dieser Schub hätte viele Mittel an wenigen
    Orten konzentriert, die anderswo fehlen würden.
    Die Abstimmung der Hamburger Bürger war
    eine klare Aussage gegen diese Konzen tration
    in einer unübersichtlichen gesellschaft lichen
    Situation. Sie war vor allem auch ein Misstrauen-
    svotum gegen den geschäftsgierigen Bauherren
    IOC und seine intransparente korrupte Führung.
    Die Abstimmung der Hamburger Bürger war eine
    klare Aussage gegen diese Konzen tration in ein-
    er unübersichtlichen gesellschaft lichen Situation.
    Sie war vor allem auch ein Misstrauensvotum
    gegen den geschäftsgierigen Bauherren IOC
    und seine intransparente korrupte Führung. Die
    Botschaft des Volksentscheids gegen die Olymp-
    ischen Spiele liegt aber nur scheinbar auf gleicher
    Wellenlänge mit dem Berliner Votum gegen die
    Randbebauung des Tempelhofer Flugfelds. Denn
    die Berliner Planung hat den Gedanken an große,
    ambitionierte Projekte seit langem ad acta
    gelegt; die Hauptstadtplanung duckt sich selbst
    dort, wo umfangreich geplant wird, ins Kleine.
    Das gilt nicht nur für die dilettantische und dann
    62 Hebert Brandl, Peter Vann

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  15. Andrew Sparrow
    Back for a moment now to the larger fallout from the pro-Brexit
    vote and it has emerged that the British and Irish governments
    are set to discuss the fallout from the Brexit vote for the first
    time on Wednesday.
    Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan, and the
    Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers, will talk about the
    impact of the referendum on cross-border relations when they
    meet in Belfast.
    Speaking ahead of the visit to Northern Ireland, where 56% of
    those who voted backed Remain, Flanagan said:
    It is also my first visit since last Thursday’s referendum
    and I want again to reassure people that the Irish
    Government in its contacts with EU partners continues
    to emphasise that the Northern Ireland and all-island
    dimensions will be an area for priority attention
    in all post-referendum negotiations processes,
    including in relation to the status of the border.
    Steven Morris
    In his interview on the BBC News (see 5.20pm) Alastair
    Campbell said that the Labour party was becoming a “sect”
    under Jeremy Corbyn. And he said that many of the new
    members who had joined the party because they liked Corbyn
    were not much help when it came to campaigning.
    I’ve got to tell you, campaigning recently in the referendum,
    a lot of these new members - we did not see that many of
    them out there, delivering leaflets and knocking on doors.
    There is academic research backing this up. Tim Bale, a politics
    professor at Queen Mary University of London, has carried out
    2h ago
    12:61
    3h ago
    12:61


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  16. A family built around 

    good typography at paragraph level
    and rich hierarchies
    in a range of sizes

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  17. text that sets to 

    be read fluently 

    with even spacing

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  18. text that sets to 

    be read fluently 

    with even spacing

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  19. text that sets to 

    be read fluently 

    with even spacing

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  20. text that sets to 

    be read fluently 

    with even spacing

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  21. types that are designed 

    for a range of sizes
    types designed for
    a range of sizes

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  22. agency
    agency
    agency

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  23. darnefs
    darnefs
    darnefs

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  24. agency
    agency

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  25. agency
    agency
    agency

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  26. darnegs
    darnegs
    darnegs

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  27. darnegs
    darnegs darnegs
    darnegs

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  28. darnegs
    darnegs darnegs
    darnegs

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  29. darnegs
    darnegs darnegs
    darnegs

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  30. epilogue:
    new typeface design
    as a cultural statement

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  31. thank you
    @gerryleonidas

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