So, I went to a talk in London recently by the diminutive italian Massimo Vignelli and his lovely wife Lella. I'm by no means a modernist in the vignelli sense, but nonetheless enjoy some of their furniture and product design. I've never been the biggest fan of his graphic design -- it always feels a bit sterile -- like the humanity has been intentionally stripped away. It could be argued that this is a necessary part of facilitating clear communication -- something I don't agree with however.
So Vignelli says that all we need as typographic designers are 6 typefaces, and no more. I got a little offended by this, and felt that he, well, missed the point of variety in type design. I find this quasi-utilitarian position a little strange. One typeface could theoretically function suitably (ie we could read it), but 6 is apparently the precise number that will cover the gamut of human emotion in the present, and oddly, in the future too. He claims to detest 'sameness' in design, but he contradicts his own polemic when his typographic designs are the very epitomy of this. They all borrow from a specific and unchanging box of modernist visual language. Heavy horizontal bars, grotesk types, a blind allegiance to the grid etc etc. It's not even as if he is using these 6 typefaces in a variety of ways either. Furthermore, despite hundreds of years of type design, he finds it suitable to include one of his own creations -- our bodoni -- in this elite club. I just don't get it.