is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
It made me think though: with the possible exception of Helvetica, the only time popular culture acknowledges typography is when something has gone wrong—really wrong. Think of Comic Sans, which has earned a wide reputation for being a severely overused, terrible choice. Or Calibri which figured centrally into a major corruption story in Pakistan earlier this year (that scandal even became known as “fontgate”). Papyrus now joins those ranks as being remarkable for being notorious.
It says something about our craft when the only time the uninitiated have an opinion about it is when it’s gone off the rails somehow. This is not to say we shouldn’t have a sense of humor about what we do. We should—this SNL short had me in stitches. At the same time though, it would be nice to be recognized for the good we do, too. Design needs to do a better of job of explaining the value that we contribute to society, otherwise it’s just going to mean more ridicule.+