Design Curator: Timelessness

Design is all around us. Influencing us by telling us which way to go, selling us things we don’t want, and shouting at us from a breaking news headline. Whether it’s through words or images, design is a part of our daily lives. So, we can probably learn a thing or two from our surroundings.

One such design element millions of people see and use every day is the font Helvetica. Typography is an art, whether the art is portrayed as practical and functional or elegant and pristine. For those who are graphic artists and use typefaces on a daily basis or for those who make handmade cards or screen print tees, knowing about Helvetica is important. Even for those artists who don’t incorporate typefaces into their work, Helvetica can bring conceptual inspiration to your designs.

The basis for this post is from filmmaker Gary Hustwit’s documentary, Helvetica.  The film examines the world we live in through the lens of typography, graphic design, and global visual structure. Plus, the film explores urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them. It is a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type.

Graphic designer, Massimo Vignelli, who designed the New York City signage in 1966, comments in the documentary about the importance of legibility and clarity in a typeface. According to Vignelli, Helvetica was and is clear, legible, and simultaneously modern.

The New York Times says this about the film:

“Overlong but fascinating, Mr. Hustwit’s documentary posits Helvetica, a sans-serif typeface developed in 1957 at the Haas Foundry in Munchenstein, Switzerland as an emblem of the machine age, a harbinger of globalization and an ally of modern art’s impulse toward innovation, simplicity and abstraction.”

One sure thing the typeface has going for it is timelessness. Helvetica has been influencing our lives for the last 50 years. And it’s still going.  What is it about Helvetica that has made its life span so long? What design inspiration can we walk away with?

Last month I talked about simplicity in design; this month concerns another important element of any design – timelessness. It’s great to design according to fads and what is now, but designing something that will still be usable and valuable 50 years later is an accomplishment and a legacy. What legacy are you leaving behind?

Design writer, Rick Poyner, says this in Hustwit’s documentary, “The designer has an enormous responsibility…these [designers] are the people putting the wires into our heads.”

~ Elizabeth Wann {Writer & Designer}

Meet Ang Davidson

1. Please tell us who you are, about your background and the origins of your Etsy shop, 

I’m Angela, I’m 27 and I live in Center City Philadelphia with my dog Moe and 2 cats, Carrot and Rabbit.  I moved to Philadelphia from the DC area in 2000 to go to University of the Arts, where I earned my BFA in painting and drawing.  I always loved drawing little animals and characters, and I’ve been in love with crocheting since my mom taught me when I was about 10.  My crocheted stuffed animals emerged from those passions coming together.  I started making them about 3 years ago just for my own enjoyment, and I had a mini show of the first 20 or so pieces in the Art Ed Dept. at the University of the Arts.  I had such an amazing response from that little show, I knew I was onto something- that’s when I started my etsy site, and the rest is history! 

Mellow Yellow DreadHead


Small Turtle


Bug Eye Guy


Goaty Goat


2. What do you think you do best? 

Obviously crocheting, and I like to paint and draw.  Also I’m pretty awesome at Scrabble!  

3.  How do you think the internet has affected your business? 

I wouldn’t have much of a business without the internet.  At least 75% of my sales have been through my etsy site.  To date, I’ve sent pieces to 30 states and 10 countries- this would never have been possible without etsy!  I’ve also made numerous connections through my etsy site and Philadelphia handmade networking.  I don’t know how artists ever made a living before the internet! 

4. What is your workspace like?  My workspace is my living room couch about 99% of the time. 



5.  What are your plans for the rest of 2010.  

 I’m working on a thesis for my Master’s Degree in Art Education.  I’m also trying to get myself and my work out into the Philadelphia community as much as possible.  I don’t want to jinx it by saying too much, but I’m also in the process of getting my crocheted animals into mass production. 

You can see more of Ang’s cutie guys in Salon Ricochet on 13th in Center City and her etsy store. 

Thanks for reading this interview.  Ang and I will be sharing a booth at The InLiquid’s Art for the Cash Poor annual party and sale in the Crane Arts Building on June 13.  Come by and say hello. 

– Jan,

Booksignings: Franklin Habit & Heather Ross

Friday after work I headed over to South Street. First I stopped at Loop, where I picked up a copy of Franklin Habit‘s  It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons. There are more pics from the event on Loop’s blog. I then headed over to Spool, where Heather Ross was signing her book Weekend Sewing. If you missed it, team member Sarah of RedRedOrange interviewed Heather last week.

(posted by flying fox design)