Crazy Busy
Design Policy and CCBHS final presentations

Helvetica in White

Last night I watched the film, Helvetica, by Gary Hustwit. While it is an amazing film about typography and provides an interesting history of the Swiss modern typeface, Helvetica, it was struck by the lack of ethnic  and even gender diversity among the interviewees. Of the 22 + interviewees, only 4 were women, 0 were people of color, leaving the rest to be European or Euro-American white males.  Okay,  historically I can see how the designers from the 50s and 60s would be the euro white male, but why were there no people of color among the later designers. Paula Scher and David Carson, and Stefan Sagmeister criticized Helvetica for ideological reasons, but what about someone like Saki Mafundikwa, who could criticize it for its colonial rationality.

I know that diversity in design has a long way to go. But considering the film was done in 2007 in ethnically diverse Europe and the US, you'd think that it would somehow make an appearance in the film. Another missed opportunity...

Comments

Brochure Printing London

I know of a black-scottish artist in Glasgow and also a japanese lecturer in Art in Glasgow University.

Maximilian Forte

I have been making public jokes about how there are no journal articles on the topic of font selection--not that I have ever bothered to check, so I am really basking in my own ignorance here--and you come with this news of a documentary about Helvetica.

The topic seems to be not so shallow after all, where attempts are made to objectify a national or cultural style through a design element (Zinjaro appears to be a caricature of Mexican design; then there is Parisian, Roman, New York, Papyrus, etc., Helvetica is not isolated).

Anyone who engages in Web design will at some point pause and struggle to choose the appropriate font for a site. Some might intuitively arrive at a conclusion that "this just looks good" without necessarily reflecting on why that is so, is it because it resembles a prominent magazine, or something else? In some cases, there is an "ethnic" choice to be made about design--if the site is about indigenous peoples, you don't want fonts that remind one of robots, electricity, neon, and so forth, they seem out of place, and that in itself already says a lot about what a web designer might think about indigenous identities.

I'm sorry, have I bored you enough already?

Thanks for your post, I am linking to your blog.

niik

The struggle continues.....

The comments to this entry are closed.