An article posted on the “AIGA Eye on Design” site asks whether or not a font (typeface) choice can make a product or service appear either “cheap” or “luxurious”. Using information from a recent survey by author and typographer, Sarah Hyndman, the article attempts to answer that question, but as the text progresses there are even more questions raised than answered—at least as far as I am concerned.
Putting aside my personal bias against the misuse of the word “font” as a replacement for “typeface”, I find fault in the experiment itself in that it tests the typefaces out of any design context. While it is certainly true that some faces—Comic Sans or Papyrus come to mind—will make a design look cheap, even a “luxurious” face like Hoefler & Co.’s “Didot” (picked as the “diamond of all fonts” in the survey) can’t save a design that is badly done.
Madeleine Morley, the article’s author seems to reach the same conclusion: “Perhaps the overall quality that creates a sense of luxury isn’t necessarily based on font characteristics, but rather the skill and craftsmanship behind the rendering of a final design.”
Typefaces are like anything else in our society; influenced by the culture’s zeitgeist, typeface’s fall in and out of favor with designers and the public. But to try to decide a face’s worth in the vacuum of a survey makes for nothing more than an interesting read and perhaps a source of debate among typophiles.