Should anyone be surprised that a Swiss man devised a typeface with neutrality as its strongest feature? Designer Max Miedinger's Helvetica (as it became known) was seen as a great step forward because the face has no implied meaning — it allows what's written to convey all meaning. If this idea seems arcane, consider how you react when you see text in Fraktur (gothic black letter) as opposed to Comic Sans Serif — it's a different feeling, right? Because of its neutrality, Helvetica has become ubiquitous in the past 51 years. Director Gary Hustwit explores the rise of Miedinger's creation in the documentary Helvetica, which features prominent designers such as Wim Crouwel and Hermann Zapf discussing how typeface, specifically this one, affects people's lives. Helvetica screens at 7 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org) and is followed by a panel discussion on the topic of typography with featured panelists Kay Kramer from the Printery and associate professor of graphic communications Chuck Groth. Admission is free.
Thu., Dec. 4, 2008