Watch: Monotype's Charles Nix on Helvetica's latest offspring, Helvetica Now
Helvetica is, almost perhaps, the best-known typeface of all time. The font which has inspired designers across multiple generations and around the world to reinvent the visual language of today recently got revamped for the digital ages through Monotype’s Studio team.
"It's been six decades since Helvetica was released, and in that time the typeface has remained the go-to choice for clarity and neutrality. However, as with many typefaces, the demands on it have increased. Helvetica's famous Swiss simplicity is now expected to perform in a growing range of environments and at a wider spectrum of sizes than ever before" notes Monotype's Emma Tucker on the brand new take of an all-time classic.
Helvetica Now reimagines Neue Helvetica, the classic font which was released in 1983, for the digital era whilst "staying true to its ethos of simplicity, clarity, and global appeal". Helvetica Now offers Micro, Text and Display sizes "each of which is tailored to a particular environment—unlike Neue Helvetica, which was drawn and spaced for use in text type," with the Micro version a standout feature of Helvetica Now.
"When you go back to the original source, it's so much more readable and that doesn't have to do with the forms themselves but the spacing" says Monotype Type Director Charles Nix. "It was about studying the spaces between the letters and figuring out what the methodology was early on, how it made the type so much easier to read, and then restoring that and improving upon it."
For this brand new font Monotype redraw Helvetica’s nearly 40,000 characters and as Nix notes in Verge, the "redesign was done with extreme trepidation".
Nix and his team got deep into the forms, studied the history of New York's original typeface, looked at every iteration between 1957 and now as it was more than important for him "to understand how it’s evolved and where the missteps happened — what can be corrected and what needs to be preserved".
In the video Charles Nix shares how the project came about and discusses the specific updates that have been made to address the needs of a modern world. An absolute must-see and please, thank us later.