Type Cast

Set for release next year, to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of its subject’s creation, Helvetica is a feature length documentary film about graphic design, visual culture and the impact of design’s favourite typeface. First time director Gary Hustwit has assembled an array of graphic talent to discuss the ubiquity of the typeface that was designed by Max Miedinger in 1957 for the Haas Type Foundry in Munchenstein, Switzerland.

Currently in post-production the film was shot on high definition in the US, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium. A labour of love for Hustwit (who has, to date, produced five acclaimed documentaries including I am Trying to Break Your Heart, a study of the band Wilco) the film features interviews with some of design’s biggest names and most influential practitioners: Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, Massimo Vignelli, Michael Bierut, Wim Crouwel, Stefan Sagmeister and members of APFEL and Experimental Jetset all contribute.

Inspired by the sheer frequency with which Helvetica enters daily life – on transport systems, TV programs, advertising, signage etc – Hustwit hoped to discover the repurcussions of its popularity and whether its extensive use points to a global visual culture. Clips and trailers will soon be available from the website www.helveticafilm.com and, if you doubted the merchandising opportunities of a film about type, think again: limited edition posters by Experimental Jetset, Build and Norm (Zurich) can be bought from the website, alongside Helvetican T-shirts and badges.


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