Max Miedinger is one of the most influential Swiss typeface designers of the period. As the in-house designer at the Haas Foundery in Switzerland, he was commissioned to design a more modern version of the Swiss favored Akzidenz-Grotesk typeface. Due to this redesign, Miedinger designed Neue Haas Grotesk, also known as Helvetica, which has become the most popular and widely used sans serif typeface of the 20th Century.
Miedingner was born in Zürich, Switzerland in 1910 and began his career at an incredibly young age, studying typography. At the ripe age of 16, Miedigner became the apprentice of the typecast, Jacques Bollmann. Not much is known of Bollmann, but Miedigner remained in his apprenticeship for many years. After four years working under Bollman, he entered the School of Arts and Crafts, Kunstgewerbeschule.
He began his professional career at a department store called Globus, where he worked for the advertising department, specifically in typecasting for the following ten years. He then transitioned to a position at The Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei or well-known as the Haas Type Foundry, which was a printer and type manufacture that designed some of the most well-known typefaces known to date.
Miedinger developed his first type typeface while working at Haas Type Foundry, named Pro Arte, in 1954. While it was his very first typeface, it would never reach the heights of popularity as his next creation would. In 1956, Eduard Hoffmann at the Haas Type Foundry commissioned him to work on a new sans-serif typeface that would be a more modern version of Akzidenz-Grotesk, which was a common typeface during the time.
It was then when he developed his most notable work, Neue Haas Grotesk, in 1957. In 1958, the standard roman version of this font was released, and in 1959 the bold version was rolled out. While Neue Haas Grotesk’s name is not easily recognized, its name was eventually changed in 1960 to something more commonly recognized today, Helvetica.
Helvetica represented the shift that was occurring in the world of typography and design. It became the most widely used font of all time and highly influential to the International Typographic Style period. Miedigner never received widespread recognition or fame from his creation but remained respected and working as a freelancer for the remainder of his career.
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