Can you make the edges rounder?

Written by Carl Nas & 

Modernist typography is often accused of being cold, inhuman and ineffectual in broad mass communication. That’s wrong. The modernist idea, starting with the Bauhaus movement and followed by the Swiss Style, was all about functionality. Readability and objectivity were accomplished through bold sans serifs composed in rational grid systems. Modernists have always started off with the needs of their users in mind and never let trends replace the communicative goal. Many visual identities launched in the 1960s and 1970s are still vivid and effective today thanks to modernist principles.

Typefaces like Akzidenz and Neue Haas can come across as being a bit harsh and unfriendly, but let’s ask ourselves — is a less sharp typeface more human? Do soft shapes reach out to more people? Would Comic Sans turn the world into a warmer place? No, a sharp simplified typeface treated by professionals can be a true friend – a friend who is solely focused on functionality while at the same time being based upon human behaviour – and honestly, who wants a friend without edges?

When we developed Stockholm Type at Essen International together with B+P Swiss Typefaces, our ambition was to communicate activity, trustworthiness and accessibility to one million Stockholmers. Did we make the edges rounder? Hell no.