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We need to stop advocating Helvetica as the best typeface.

Aasawari Kulkarni, a fellow at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, writes in TYPE01 magazine:

Aasawari Kulkarni, an AICAD fellow at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, writes in TYPE01 magazine:

Helvetica in all its glory has more than served its life’s purpose and even if we in a combined capacity don’t use it for years to come, will not be lost or diminished. Then why not take a chance by making way for a little more expression where necessary. Peter Bilak says in his essay “We don’t need new fonts…”, that “there are typefaces which haven’t been made yet and which we need. Type that reacts to our present reality rather than being constrained by past conventions.” Identifying and valuing such typefaces that have more personality gives our design more of a presence. A union of literal meaning and visual perception through an intentionally defined identity. It is an opportunity to make more space for typefaces that aren’t considered ‘normal’ enough for Helvetica’s world. These typefaces have dared to break away from Swiss ideals of letter design, they’ve dared to be something else — something more, and their otherness stands in the way of their favourable use. They are viewed from a critical standpoint, as opposed to being viewed as more contemporary, more timely solutions to the normalcy, the lazy comfort that grotesque type shadows our world with.

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of my head nodding in agreement. I’ve never been a fan of Helvetica. Up until now, Erik Spiekermann’s professional opinion — “Helvetica is scheisse!” — was enough for me. Aasawari’s point-of-view is more damming, not a simple critique of the typeface itself but a challenge to the industry to move forward, past Helvetica. To start accepting use other forms of type to be more expressive. Yes! I hope this is not the last that we hear from her.

On a related note: I’m ready to bet cash money that in five years or less the same point of view will be expressed about the need to push beyond the Google Font catalog. Type foundries are the new breweries, popping up all over the place. And we no longer have adequate reasons to settle for the selective charity of a technology company.