Like The Office reruns and White Claw, Helvetica’s popularity remains unabated. Designed in 1957, the love for the sans-serif type hasn’t changed much, but the world in which designers use Helvetica and the world it resides in is very different.
Monotype, now the stewards for the iconic font, took a big step forward in 2019 when it released Helvetica Now, an update with additions and changes that allows designers to apply the storied type in modern applications like smartphones.
The font’s full potential wasn’t realized, however, and Monotype has just announced the release of Helvetica Now Variable, an update that makes the typeface more pliable in designers’ hands. Variable adds the ability to blend weights, sizes from four-point to infinity, and new compressed and condensed widths. Monotype’s update makes it easier to use Helvetica in new, expressive ways, making the typeface adaptable for applications needing responsive typography.
“Typographers (and good designers) know that headlines, text type, and tiny type each require special care,” Charles says. “Headlines benefit from tighter spacing and more refined letter shapes. Text type needs a breath more space and a greater emphasis on rhythm. Tiny type needs a larger x-height, breathy spacing, and more rugged forms. White type on a black ground requires different spacing than black on a white ground.”