Thank God Microsoft is Not a Swiss Company

Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 in Switzerland, Typography | No Comments

As a Mac user since 1991, I go by one of the Mac community’s most frequently-seen slogans — Don’t imitate, innovate! The Swiss have come out with some of the best fonts (although as a world-ready citizen I’ll be switching to a more “international” font soon — but that font is also used at Zürich Airport). Things like Helvetica, Frutiger, Univers and Avenir.

Think about it: When SWISS International Air Lines first started, they couldn’t wean off their own Swiss font, Univers. Swiss roads and motorways are making a much-needed switch to Frutiger (in private, I predicted this would happen as early as 1998). Swiss TV is (used to be) a Helvetica fanboy, with the font now over 50 (but that font is by no means “senile”!). And then you have Starbucks, which is gradually making the switch over to Adrian Frutiger’s Avenir.

For the longest time, these were the most iconic fonts in the — well, “fontosphere”. But in the past decades, something awful has started to happen.

Crazy Beijing Subway Fonts

Posted by on Jun 1, 2008 in Beijing, Typography | No Comments
Crazy Beijing Subway Fonts

It’s a good thing that Beijing’s Subway Line 4 is coming all that bit closer to reality — the new line’s ready for a late September 2009 opening. Hopefully by then, they’ll also have fixed this insane font mix…

OK — here’s what I think is wrong with the signpost, font-wise:

China Mobile: Frutiger Wannabe Running Vista

Posted by on Aug 27, 2007 in Beijing, Typography | No Comments

China Mobile is the latest victim to use a Frutiger-wannabe font. They must have updated their computers to Windows Vista, because their English language font looks very similar to Frutiger.

Delve deeper, though, and you’ll see that the lowercase “a” doesn’t look very Swiss. (Also, the dot on the lowercase “i” is round – not square.) That’s right: they’re using the copycat-ish font known as Segoe UI. The new font (Segoe UI) has already sparked quite a controversy.

Even Myriad (which is Adobe-and-Apple territory) looks less like a total Frutiger clone.

Can You Read This? Airport Freeway, Beijing

Posted by on Jun 21, 2007 in Beijing, Typography | No Comments
Can You Read This? Airport Freeway, Beijing

Funny font behavior on the Airport Freeway… Just take a look…

“Through Lane” is legible, because the caps and the lowercase characters are at least in sync — the whole thing looks “normal”. The lowercase characters in “Emergency Vehicle Lane”, in the meantime, are way too small — they’re way out of whack, and out of proportion, too.

What is Zhangyiyuan Selling These Days?

Posted by on Jun 21, 2007 in Beijing, Typography | No Comments
What is Zhangyiyuan Selling These Days?

Excuse me, but that font that they’re using is a little… you know… too futuristic. Futuristic stuff, to me, just doesn’t mix with more “traditional stuff” like tea leaves…

The whole font’s wrong. Frankly… and to be totally honest… I thought that this was a spaceship ad the first time I looked at it.

Mixing Serif and Sans Serif = Bad Idea

Posted by on Jun 4, 2007 in Beijing, Typography | No Comments
Mixing Serif and Sans Serif = Bad Idea

Beijing is coming out with a lot of those really nice new traffic “info boards” (for lack of a better word). The whole idea, by the way, of having those “info boards” came from Shanghai. However, along with the really neat “info boards” (where you are finally informed which roads are full of stockender Kolonnenverkehr), there is a really, really bad — a really glaring typographical error.

It cannot be emphasized enough: Serifs and sans serifs simply do not mix — and especially not on the same line. Unfortunately, they didn’t just import the new “info boards” from Shanghai (apart from Pudong); they imported the “bad Shanghai serif G” bug, too.