Jean François Porchez

Look very carefully, and you may be able to discern that this sentence is printed in a traditional Roman font called Alternative HTF2, 7 and 1/2 points in size. The headline immediately above unexpectedly shifts to a larger, 18-point, sans-serif Antenna Condensed Bold. The abbreviated day (wed) reverts to a chunky 26-point Roman font (Salvo Serif Bold), but with a sassy lower-case twist, in the same font family as the large “Weekly Wire” banner head up top. All of which Jean François Porchez could discern at a glance, since he’s (honorary) President of the Association Typographique Internationale. He’s designed clear, easy-to-read signage for the Paris Metro, the fonts for Le Monde, and custom typefaces for Beyoncé (she can afford him; we can’t). In a curious corollary to our information age, with so many screens and portable devices to read, lettering has never been more prevalent or diverse. As office workers, it seems, all we do is read. This places a unique burden on Prochez and his peers: They must somehow make all that clutter clear, render all the stories and tweets and texts and ads more cleanly amid the constantly expanding flow of verbiage. We all know what’s its like to be lost inside a bad website or subway station, where your path to value is impeded and misdirected. Porchez will speak tonight about how good design leads the eye, pleases the eye, and helps navigate our way toward meaning. BRIAN MILLER

Wed., Feb. 15, 7 p.m., 2012

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