My copy of the Helvetica DVD arrived a couple of days ago – you know, Gary Hustwit’s full-length documentary about a typeface, which has become inexplicably popular far beyond the typographic world. What this film does more than anything else – more than tell us about the actual typeface Helvetica, though it does that quite well – is show us how ubiquitous type is in the world around us, and how this obscure practice, typography, is something we live with every single day. That, I imagine, is the source of its wider appeal.
I’ve been browsing the DVD’s “Extras” – outtakes and extra material that didn’t make it into the movie. My favorite quotes are from Neville Brody and Erik Spiekermann:
Neville Brody on type in the world: “All schools should be teaching typography. We should be fundamentally aware of how typographic language is forming our thoughts.”
Erik Spiekermann, after describing how he’s been re-designing the timetables for the German railroads: “That stuff is what makes a nation’s culture: it’s the visual surrounding. You know: good architecture, good food, and good timetables, or good announcements on the walls of stations – I think that’s a very important cultural contribution.” [Erik Spiekermann]
I was also pleased to hear that, like me, Erik looks first to the lowercase a when identifying a typeface.