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  • Luise Stromberg

Abstract - Heroes of Design

Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix, makes me giddy. It's a showcase of unsung superstars, of the names I should know as well as any actor on the red carpet. Designers don't usually get the recognition of a performer whose face is plastered everywhere. Designers are hidden, but the best of them have more impact on me than a Madonna or Tom Cruise. Every episode of Abstract explores how a great designer has shaped my world... without me knowing it.

Case in point: Season 2's episode on Jonathan Hoefler: Typeface Design. As a textile designer I won't deny having played with type in a pattern. I'm sure many of us have done one “alphabet soup” pattern. (I had a client ask me to remove the “sex”... It took me an hour to figure out how they had connected those letters!) Type is fun to play with in repeat, to flip and spin, and to play out in ever more complicated designs. But that is type treated as a shape... not in its intended form: for reading.

Most of us are familiar with a few typefaces. Some have become ubiquitous like Helvetica or Comic Sans. We may even speak a little of the language of a typeface designer: serif or sans serif, bold or italic.... And then because we have a little knowledge, we think we know what it means to design a typeface. But I feel so humbled after watching this episode. Not only did they capture Hoefler's dedication to his art, they let him teach the art form. It made me realize I've only scraped the surface of what makes a typeface. (I'll be checking out Hoefler's blog for more!)

What made me, a textile designer, really connect to him were his words about a new typeface he was preparing to launch. He said, “I'm curious to see how it gets used.” I get it. It never gets old. Seeing my design in the world is one of the best feelings in the world. And I love knowing that even someone as talented as Hoefler gets the same giddy feeling seeing his work out there.

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