December 07, 2008

Poster for Gary Hustwit’s documentary.

Vignelli was already an enthusiastic advocate for Helvetica prior to his move to the United States. What he most loved about it was its lack of sidebearings. This enabled him to tightly pack letters together—as in his famous posters for the Piccolo Teatro in Milan—without having to cut up galley proofs. Vignelli shared his love of Helvetica with his colleagues at Unimark and it quickly became the firm’s “house face.” The “new sans serif” was especially prized for visual identity systems such as the one Unimark developed for Varian. Not only could Helvetica be set closely but it was available in a variety of sizes and weights and on a variety of typesetting systems. More importantly, compared to its sans serif rival Standard, it was considered more harmonious in design because the terminals of c, e, s, etc., were horizontal.

-The (Mostly) True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway-AIGA-

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