Neue Haas Grotesk
The first weights of Neue Haas Grotesk were designed in 1957-1958 by Max Miedinger for the Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei in Switzerland, with art direction by the company’s principal, Eduard Hoffmann. Neue Haas Grotesk was to be the answer to the British and German grotesques that had become hugely popular thanks to the success of functionalist Swiss typography. The typeface was soon revised and released as Helvetica by Linotype AG.
As Neue Haas Grotesk had to be adapted to work on Linotype’s hot metal linecasters, Linotype Helvetica was in some ways a radically transformed version of the original. For instance, the matrices for Regular and Bold had to be of equal widths, and therefore the Bold was redrawn at a considerably narrower proportion. During the transition from metal to phototypesetting, Helvetica underwent additional modifications. In the 1980s Neue Helvetica was produced as a rationalized, standardized version.
For Christian Schwartz, the assignment to design a digital revival of Neue Haas Grotesk was an occasion to set history straight. “Much of the warm personality of Miedinger’s shapes was lost along the way. So rather than trying to rethink Helvetica or improve on current digital versions, this was more of a restoration project: bringing Miedinger’s original Neue Haas Grotesk back to life with as much fidelity to his original shapes and spacing as possible (albeit with the addition of kerning, an expensive luxury in handset type).”
Schwartz’s revival was originally commissioned in 2004 by Mark Porter for the redesign of The Guardian, but not used. Schwartz completed the family in 2010 for Richard Turley at Bloomberg Businessweek. Its thinnest weight was designed by Berton Hasebe.