OpenType metaphor

OpenType Swiss Knife

Stephen Coles used an interesting metaphor to explain OpenType format for FontShop. His boss already proved many times that metaphors are useful to explain typography in his excellent book, Stop Stealing Type, one of my favorite book for longtime.

Erik Speikermann dedication in my 1993’s copy:

← Erik
→ Jean François Stop making bad type, Den Haag, 25–10–96.

Despite that I like metaphors, I wonder in today context of Helvetica trend, if the Swiss knife is the right target:

1. As owner of a Swiss knife, I hope that some of his tools can be helpful, but none of them will remplace the real tool. By extension, we may ask: does an OpenType font with Swashes features activated will remplace a good old Type 1 Swashes font? Its not what intended, I think.

2. Swiss knife = Helvetica. Helvetica can be used everywhere to remplace any others typefaces, no more need for minuscule figures, small caps, dingbats, ornaments and so on. The problem with this is at the end, is that the world will be boring and will lost his various tastes.

To me OpenType are even better than originals tools, it will never be the case with a Swiss Knife who can broke used in same condition as the real tool, even if the user was a student of Josef Müller-Brockmann (mine own Swiss knife was broken by this student in question!).


Jean François Porchez, 3 July 2008

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