Famous Typographers of Famous Fonts: Max Miedinger
Helvetica is a very stylish font. For many decades, Helvetica has been the go-to typeface highly favoured by graphic designers and anyone looking for a simple, elegant and bold look.
Created by Swiss born Max Miedinger in 1957, this deceptively simple sans serif type was first known as Neue Haas Grotesk, but in 1960 that was replaced with the more marketable name Helvetica.
The type was promoted as a cutting edge example of Swiss technology and elegance, and quickly gained global prominence.
Helvetica’s rise and rise
Along with Times New Roman, Helvetica became one of the most commonly used typefaces of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, gaining a reputation as a highly reliable font that’s easy to read and display.
In modern times Helvetica is a default typeface for many desktop publishing software programmes, but has fallen somewhat out of favour with designers due to its overuse. However, Helvetica retains a passionate following, with many upholding Miedinger’s work as the ultimate font.
Miedinger’s life and work
Max Miedinger was born on December 24th 1910 in Zurich and died there on March 8th 1980. His life was dedicated to typography, with him taking an apprenticeship with the Bollmann printing office in Zurich straight after finishing school.
Miedinger worked his way up and up, taking art classes to round out his technical skills. His talents eventually attracted the attention of Eduard Hoffmann, head of the Haas Typefoundry, who gave him a job as a representative.
Helvetica is often said to be a font with two fathers, and Eduard Hoffman is the man who gave Max Miedinger the creative brief and time to create Helvetica, a new, sans serif typeface that could be marketed across the world.
Together, Miedinger and Hoffman wanted to create a typeface that would find widespread use in the business sector, where another typeface called Akzidenz Grotesk (our corporate typeface) was gaining ground.
Helvetica was designed to be a more robust, elegant design and quickly superseded it, becoming a font prized for its practicality and style.
Max Miedinger: Legacy
Max Miedinger created scores of fonts in his lifetime but Helvetica is his most famous design. It can be seen almost everywhere these days, from film posters and product labels to word processing programmes and street signs.
If any font can be said to have a popular following, it’s Helvetica, and Miedinger would surely be happy with its status – that’s what he designed it for.
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