Tuesday's Oscar nominations might be on the brain, but a development for the design world could be seen a lifetime achievement award for type designers. The Museum of Modern Art has acquired 23 digital typefaces for their permanent collection. Some, like Verdana, make the words that you read every day easier to understand, others, like Keedy Sans, are celebrated because they twist and transform typography into an art.
The move is not exactly surprising. Senior architecture and design curator Paola Antonelli had the design community giggling when she acquired the "@" sign last year, a must for an upcoming show on design and communication called Talk to Me. And it's not the first typeface in MoMA's collection, although these will certainly be easier to store: The one they have in the vault is a 36-point set of actual lead type in Helvetica Bold.
Matthew Carter, one of this year's MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipients, and designer of Verdana, leads with seven typefaces heading to MoMA. He's followed by type duo Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones who have three nods together including the newest typeface, Gotham, which was designed in 2000 (and best known for its turn in Obama campaign graphics). Hoefler and Frere-Jones also have one typeface each they created solo, HTF Didot (Hoefler) and Interstate (Frere-Jones), best known for its super-legible letters made for the freeway system.
Only one woman, Zuzana Licko, was recognized, with her typeface Oakland. But Licko's contribution is one of the most monumental: Oakland was one of the first typefaces to be designed exclusively on a computer, the Apple Macintosh 128K.
You can see a complete list of all 23 typefaces and their designers over at the MoMA blog. The new typefaces will be on display as part of Standard Deviations which opens March 2, and, we're assuming, will also star in the upcoming show Talk to Me.