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IBM Plex - The Search For The New Helvetica

IBM Plex – The Search For The New Helvetica

Hello All

In this week’s edition of the UXD Inspired Reads, we start off with a great look at IBM’s new typeface, Plex. Designed as the “New Helvetica”, IBM’s designers labored over the design and aesthetics for good reason. How does one create a typeface that symbolizes so much history, innovation, and progress, all the while pointing to the future? Firefox has re-upped in the great Browser Wars and released their new version of Firefox, dubbed Quantum.

The next several links cover wonderful tips and workflow within Sketch to help automate and improve your design team’s workflow. Sketch continues to grow in capabilities and collaboration. Designing the right icon sizes may seem minor, but everything counts in large amounts. Next we look again at the rising importance of Blockchain. Bitcoin may be in a profound speculation bubble, but the underlying technology of Blockchain can be revolutionary.

Next we read on about how Social Media can be great for your career. Not all networks are wasteful of time and focus. Speaking of focus, what would you do if you knew Alzheimer’s was coming for you? Pretty dark, but relevant piece. Next we look at how even though Amazon continues to grow in stature, several smaller independent bookstores have grown. Considering today is “Cyber Monday”, that is no small feat.

Lastly we look at the recent announcement by Tesla and their new Semi. Impressive engineering results and wonderful design, though I for one prefer tactile feedback from buttons that do not require a user to divert their attention to a touch screen whilst driving. Hard design choices, but ones worth some investigation. Finally another nod to the bi-annual show at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. If you are in NYC on December 17th or 18th, a trip to the “center for the recently possible” is highly recommended.

Have a great week!


1. IBM’s Quest To Design The “New Helvetica”
“”The company’s first typeface, called IBM Plex, is free for anyone to use.” To uncover what the typeface should express, Abbink and his team took a deep dive into IBM’s archives. They were especially interested in the company’s history in the postwar years, when its design-led business strategy first took shape and the legendary practitioner Paul Rand, who defined design as a system of relationships, created its famous eight-bar logo. In Rand’s logo, Abbink and his team saw a contrast between hard edges–the engineered, rational, and mechanical–and curves–the softer more humanistic elements. It’s a reflection of the man-and-machine relationship that runs through the company’s history–a dynamic that is reflected in the final form of IBM Plex. Each of the letters and glyphs has those hard “engineered” edges and soft “humanistic” curves, just like Rand’s logo.”

2. Ciao, Chrome: Firefox Quantum Is The Browser Built For 2017
“Chrome commands nearly 60 percent of the browser market, and is more than four times as popular as the second-place finisher, Firefox. Chrome won the browser wars. So my expectations for Firefox Quantum, the new browser from Mozilla, were not particularly high. Mozilla made big promises about Quantum’s speed and efficiency, which are what everyone makes big promises about when they launch a new browser, and they never really make a difference in the experience. What could Firefox even do to win me over?”

3. Prototyping With Sketch + InVision + Craft
“When you prototype your designs, you’re able to get more insight into the functionality and usability of your app. And by not having to switch apps to create your prototypes, you’re able to iterate on those designs much faster, and with less hassle. Plus, with InVision, you’re able to collaborate with everyone on your team—even if they don’t have Sketch.”

4. Choosing The Right Size And Format For Icons
“Choosing the right icon size for various operating systems is important, but it may also cause headaches, depression, and other unpleasant side effects. This may negatively affect the cost of design and quality of a product as a whole.”

5. The User Experience Of Blockchain
“Blockchain will have a massive impact on banking, digital identity, smart contracts, digital voting, and decentralized notary. So what does this mean for designers?”

6. How To Use Social Media In Your Career
“Do you think you should be on social media but don’t know where to start? What should you post, and how often should you post it? What’s more powerful, a like or a retweet? Here’s what you need to know about the most popular social media platforms for professional settings, whether you are looking to expand your network, build a business or find a new gig.”

7. What If You Knew Alzheimer’s Was Coming For You?
“Simple blood tests may soon be able to deliver alarming news about your cognitive health.”

8. How Independent Bookstores Have Thrived In Spite Of
“When burst onto the nascent online retail scene in 1995, the future seemed bleak for brick-and-mortar independent bookstores—which already faced competition from superstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders. Indeed, between 1995 and 2000, the number of independent bookstores in the United States plummeted 43 percent, according to the American Booksellers Association (ABA), a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the promotion of independent bookstores. But then a funny thing happened. While pressure from Amazon forced Borders out of business in 2011, indie bookstores staged an unexpected comeback. Between 2009 and 2015, the ABA reported a 35 percent growth in the number of independent booksellers, from 1,651 stores to 2,227.”

9. U.S. Energy Sources And Uses: Everything You Need To Know In One Lovely Chart
“That’s why we were so pleased to learn of the chart at the top of this article, produced by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory using data and funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. In one single graphic, it shows all the energy used in the United States. It lists both where it comes from (solar, nuclear, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass, natural gas, petroleum, and coal) and what it’s used for (residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation). And, you may note, the grey box at the top right contains a pretty grim kicker.”

10. Tesla Semi: 500-Mile Range, Lower Running Costs Than Diesel… And It’s Fast
“The long-awaited Tesla Semi electric truck was unveiled Thursday night and it promises to shake up the shipping industry by significantly reducing the cost of transporting goods from point-to-point.”

11. ITP Winter Show 2017
“A two day exhibition of creative interactive projects by the graduate students at ITP.”
Sunday, December 17, 2-6pm
Monday, December 18, 4-8pm