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The Birth of Helvetica Man

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Arts, design, national parks, signs, Helvetica Man, Smart Set,

Helvetica ManHelvetica Man is a fixture of national parks, coffee shops, and airports around the world, helpfully pointing the way to bathrooms, elevators, and wet floors. His bulbous head and shapely figure are easy to understand, no matter what language a person speaks. This innocuous, multicultural figure did not emerge by accident. He was invented by the Austrian philosopher and social scientist Otto Neurath, according to the Smart Set. Neurath believed that language wasn’t the best way to impart knowledge universally, according to the article, and “sought instead a uniform visual communication system that relied on observation and experience.” Helvetica man, as he was later dubbed, became the cornerstone of that system.

Source: The Smart Set