Lab Week 4: Helvetica

All of us are prompted in subliminal ways. -Rick Poynor


I love this film for so many reasons. It does a great job of illustrating the Modernist and Postmodernist socio-political climates and their respective effects on design.

In Vis Com we spend a lot of time discussing visual elements and the powerful ways that something such as color, shape or typeface can communicate a certain mood or feeling in the viewer. HelveticaΒ really illustrates this point. As designer Neville Brody points out, if you see an ad for jeans in a grunge font, most likely you will expect the jeans to be tattered and edgy. If you saw the same ad in Helvetica, you would expect a pair of jeans that won’t “stand out from the crowd.”

The film also addresses the question of whether the medium should be the message, or, as designer Tobias Frere-Jones points out, the type should merely be a “crystal goblet,” serving only to pool and organize information.

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