Neue Haas Grotesque brings out the best of Helvetica on screen

Monday, 6 June, 2011

New York based type designer Christian Schwartz has created a restored version of the Helvetica font, which he has called “Neue Haas Grotesque”, based on the original handset metal type, which was developed by Swiss type designers Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann in 1957.

Schwartz’s reworking of Helvetica consists of two variations, one for print, and more notably, a digital version for display, which will deliver a more faithful rendering of the font in digital form.

Helvetica’s detractors rail that it is boring, but after spending time working on Neue Haas Grotesk, Schwartz argues that Helvetica “was never intended to be the cold, perfect, rational typeface people believe it is. There is a subtle warmth in the shapes that was lost over the years. When designers use existing digital versions of Helvetica, they are using a compromised version of Miedinger’s original drawings and Hoffmann’s original ideas, and while I don’t think the original should replace what has come after it, I think it’s nice to have the choice.”

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disassociated goes fourth

Monday, 2 May, 2011

The last time I refreshed the look of disassociated.com I called it version three, so I guess this revamp could be called version four.

  • The most obvious change is the ditching of the logo. Logos were a fad on personal websites back in 2007, but they are a bit, well, 2007 now.
  • For better or worse comments are mostly off. Truth be told the style of posting here doesn’t really suit comments for the most part. They haven’t gone completely though.
  • A lot of older posts dated prior to 2008 have been archived (but not deleted)… in the context of disassociated today many of them were out of place.
  • Trebuchet MS has replaced Georgia as the font in the post titles. Helvetica, or Arial depending on your system, remains as the article/post font.
  • I managed to reduce the size of the style sheet, which I’ve been using since 2004, by about 20%… think redundant, or worse still, duplicate styles. Hmm.
  • The Art Show List has been revamped and given more identity… check it out.
  • I’m trying to manage time a little better so daily posting will be slightly reduced, freeing up time for other things, such as the Art Show List.

The next stop will likely be an HTML5 fit out, but since that will require another week off, it probably won’t happen for a while. Anyway I hope you like the refreshed look as it is.

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Redesigning the New York subway system with Helvetica

Thursday, 31 March, 2011

In the 1960s graphic designers Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda, attempting to make the New York subway system easier for commuters to use, proposed standardised signage, made with the Helvetica font, be deployed in stations across the network.

By the 1960s, using the New York subway meant navigating what a John Lindsay-era task force called “the most squalid public environment of the United States: dank, dingily lit, fetid, raucous with screeching clatter, one of the world’s meanest transit facilities.” The ugly and baffling signs underlined the city government’s loss of control.

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Choose your own font with the typographic version of Scrabble

Wednesday, 9 March, 2011

Scrabble board design by Andrew Clifford Capener

Andrew Clifford Capener has devised a version of the popular word game Scrabble especially for lovers of typography… the A-1 Scrabble designer edition:

The purpose of this project was to revive an old, but loved game. The idea was to excite people about typography by giving them the ability to choose what font their scrabble set would come in. The set would be available in the font of your choice or with an assorted font pack.

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MoMA adds 23 influential fonts to its permanent collection

Tuesday, 1 February, 2011

New York’s MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) has recently added 23 fonts to its Architecture and Design Collection, which were chosen on account of the significant role each had in the development of font design during the last 50 years of the twentieth century.

This first selection of 23 typefaces represent a new branch in our collection tree. They are all digital or designed with a foresight of the scope of the digital revolution, and they all significantly respond to the technological advancements occurring in the second half of the twentieth century. Each is a milestone in the history of typography. These newly acquired typefaces will all be on display in Standard Deviations, an installation of the contemporary design galleries opening March 2 on the third floor.

For anyone curious as to how an institution such as a museum can add commercially available fonts for their permanent collections, Jason Kottke recently interviewed Jonathan Hoefler of font foundry Hoefler & Frere-Jones – four of their typefaces joined the MoMA collection – about the legalities of the acquisition.

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Type designers and their postage stamp creations

Wednesday, 12 January, 2011

Nice, a collection of postage stamps created by type designers.

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Sans-serif fonts making reading easier for dyslexic people

Tuesday, 28 December, 2010

Serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, or Georgia – which I use here by the way, mostly in post titles and headings though – tend to be harder for dyslexic people to read. Sans-serif fonts, such as Arial, or Helvetica – used here for most post text – are preferable, though fonts resembling handwriting are the easiest for dyslexic people to read.

Serif fonts, with their “ticks” and “tails” at the end of most strokes (as found in traditional print fonts such as Georgia or Times New Roman), tend to obscure the shapes of letters, so sans-serif fonts are generally preferred. Many dyslexic people also find it easier to read a font that looks similar to hand writing as they are familiar with this style, and some teachers prefer them. However these types of fonts can lead to confusion with some letter combinations, such as “oa” and “oo”; “rn” and “m”.

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To the letter of the poster, how many of these films can you name?

Wednesday, 1 December, 2010

For movie buffs, guess the title of the film based on just letter from its poster… I’m too embarrassed to reveal how I fared.

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How many pixels can you fit onto a small yet legible font set?

Monday, 22 November, 2010

A font set designed by Ken Perlin, a computer scientist, said to be the world’s smallest, yet still legible typeface… though Adam Borowski, who in 2004 created a minuscule yet also legible font set, for side messages in a MUD client, believes his set is smaller.

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You won’t have fun with Comic Sans but you’ll learn more with it

Thursday, 28 October, 2010

You are more likely to recall information that is difficult to read, say because the text is slightly obscured or is composed with a font that is not so easy to comprehend, because you are required to concentrate more in order to absorb the material you are reading, something that scientists refer to as disfluency.

“Disfluency is just a subjective feeling of difficulty associated with any mental task,” explained psychology Prof Daniel Oppenheimer, one of the co-authors of the study. “So if something is hard to see or hear, it feels disfluent… We’d found that disfluency led people to think harder about things.”

If I’m reading the report correctly Comic Sans was one of the fonts that was harder to comprehend… another plank in the case for bringing the often reviled font in from the cold?

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