Love it or hate it, you can’t escape the typeface Helvetica. Logos for major brands such as 3M, Microsoft, Toyota, Staples, and American Airlines are set in Helvetica. You’ll also find this popular sans-serif typeface on IRS forms, street signs, and in word processing software. Last summer marked Helvetica’s 50th anniversary and the release of Helvetica, a feature-length independent film by Gary Hustwit about typography and graphic design. I missed the screening in Orlando last fall, so I was happy when it became available on Netflix.
Sonja and I watched it the other night using Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature. Designers and marketing folks will enjoy Helvetica because it offers a history lesson and commentary by top designers. I enjoyed the interviews especially Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister, and David Carson. Not to mention, it’s a well-crafted movie. However, I’m still surprised it’s #15 on Netflix’s Top 50 Watch Instantly list. That’s pretty good for a niche documentary, especially since the Watch Instantly feature doesn’t work on Mac or Firefox—two things most designers can’t live without.