Which One Font Would You Take to a Desert Island?

The NYTimes.com designer talks favorite fonts and websites.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: What is your favorite font?

Khoi Vinh: I guess if there was a desert island scenario and I only could take one font with me, I guess it would be Helvetica, though it has it's limitations, I think it's incredibly versatile and gets the job done and I also think it's one of the typefaces that will really survive the test of time beyond the next several decades if not into the next century.  I think there's just something that really done right when that typeface is put together and not just that, I think the conversation that sort of grew around Helvetica in the past five years ago has really solidified it as a timeless classic.  So, that's the one I would take with me.  It's certainly not the only one, but if pressed, that would be the one. 

Question: Besides the Times, which publications’ Web design do you admire the most?

Khoi Vinh: Well, I think our colleagues over at The Guardian are doing a really great job with their new presentation.  And I think the art director over there, he's Mark Porter.  Mark Porter at The Guardian is doing a terrific job with the new presentation.  He's a guy who came from a print background, he was art director for a newspaper for a long time and what I really like about that example is he was quite modest in coming to the web and really understood that it required him to really immerse himself for a year, if not for several years to get the medium and the results are really, really quite amazing. It's a very nicely controlled, evenly sort of executed news experience over there that at the same time really respects user's needs and goals and responds to them.  I think that's terrific. 

At the same time, I think they have a different economic situation than the Times does, which I am quite jealous of.  They don't have to accommodate the advertising units that we do, so part of that is jealousy. 

I also think over at NYMag.com, New York magazine's site, I think Ian Adelman, the design director there is doing a really terrific job making a site that's not that different from ours, but I think is infused with a lot more sort of playfulness than the Times is, and has just done a terrific job over the past few years creating a site that's really full of character and I think really accurately translates the personality of the print magazine to the web without being slavish to the print side.

Recorded on March 3, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen