1980 5-Franc Coin

In the U.S. alone, there are trillions of coins in circulation. When taking into account the rest of the world, that number could easily be in the quadrillions. Some of them range from the downright bizarre (like Somalia’s 3D geometric coins) to the traditional circular. And all of them have different designs. So really, it was only a matter of time before we came across one that we could write a blog about.

So in walks the 1980 Swiss 5-franc coin that CK received for Christmas this year. Designed by Paul Burkhard, who lived from 1888-1964, this coin contains both a lot of history and small details. Burkhard designed the coin in the early 1920s, and the same design is still being used today. On the edge of the coin “*** DOMINUS PROVIDEBIT **********” is printed, which is Latin for “The Lord will provide.” The really fascinating part comes on the side of the coin with the portrait of William Tell — yes, the same William Tell known for shooting an apple off his son’s head with a crossbow. Tell is a Swiss folk hero known for bringing unity to Switzerland, a story that inspired Gioachino Rossini to write the William Tell Overture.

The phrase “Confoederatio Helvetica” accompanies Tell’s portrait. It’s the official name for the country of Switzerland. The reason it’s in Latin is because Switzerland has four national languages, and they didn’t want to show favoritism toward one or the other. It’s also the reason for their country code on their license plates, as well as the URL extension for Swiss websites.


On the daily, I have at least 10 tabs open in my browser at work. The first three positions are always (1) my email, (2) my calendar, and (3) Noon Pacific. After those, it’s a free-for-all. Total chaos.

Nine times out of ten I never revisit these tabs because I’m just too busy to read the article or look through the design gallery (or so I tell myself). I’ve tried to use Pocket, but if I don’t digest it immediately, it’s basically dead to me. 

But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t impressed or drawn to the page in the first place. Something told me to keep the tap open. See for yourself – here are the five tabs currently open in my browser: 

The Influence of Color: Choosing a Palette in Photography
Learning from Lego: A Step Forward in Modular Web Design
The Best and Worst Identities of 2016, Part 4: The Best Noted
11 Whimsical Animal Drawings by Leupin
MailChimp For Designers

I guarantee you these are way better than whatever Steven has open in his.

Holiday Traditions

Ham for Christmas dinner, getting to open one present on Christmas Eve, leaving cookies out for Santa. Most families participate in some type of a holiday tradition, and this morning I asked everyone in the office about some of their families’ weirder ones.

CK/Linda: We have wassail and cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning.
Courtney: On Christmas Eve, Santa delivers new pajamas for everyone, usually matching.
Aaron: Everyone gets a can of Christmas SPAM in his or her stocking.
Shirlee: We had four Christmas trees.
Steven: On Christmas Eve, all of my family goes out for pizza.

If you have any weird holiday traditions, we would love to hear about them. Leave them in the comments section below.

Latest Hh Newsletter: It’s Not Too Late. Yet…

You’ve waited. Put it off to the last possible minute. Procrastinated so hard that you’re almost to the point of having to finish your Christmas shopping at 7-11. Hope your nephew likes Maple Pancake Sausage Rollers.

We’re not here to judge. We’re here to help.

No matter who’s on your list this year, we have the perfect gift at the perfect price – like our brand-new canvas cross-body tote, the season’s must-have accessory for your hot yoga class.

And did you know that every penny of your purchase goes to fund scholarships for local design students? With Helveticahaus, you’re not just buying a Christmas present; you’re helping to fund someone’s education. Feel better about yourself now?

Best of all, our proprietors have made darn sure that someone will be here till late on Friday, December 23 if you need to pick up your order. So really, folks, you have absolutely no excuses anymore.

We’re a lot more than an apparel shop now. In the last year alone, we’ve added coffee, mini-posters, notecards, and some sweet, sweet decals – each with the keen design sensibility you’ve come to expect. Heck, there’s even some free stuff. Start shopping today!

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Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

In memory of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I figured now would be a good time to take a look at some vintage WWII propaganda posters.

Latest Hh Newsletter: Your One-Stop Holiday Shop

It’s official: We can talk about the holidays now. And whichever one you and yours are planning to celebrate, we’ve got you covered.

No, seriously.

Got a Buddhist cousin celebrating Bodhi Day on December 8? Be sure to quote the Karaniya Metta Sutta – “radiate boundless love toward the entire world” – when you send her this. Worried about the Hanukkah candles making a mess? Protect your furniture with a set of these. Not exactly looking forward to the “airing of grievances” this coming Festivus? Wearing one of these babies will shut your cranky uncle down.

And keep in mind that every penny of your purchase goes not to some nameless, faceless, multinational corporation, but to fund scholarships for design students. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving – the whole year through.

We’re a lot more than an apparel shop now. In the last year alone, we’ve added coffee, mini-posters, notecards, and some sweet, sweet decals – each with the keen design sensibility you’ve come to expect. Heck, there’s even some free stuff.

So what are you waiting for? Start and end your holiday shopping at Helveticahaus!

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Hijacking a Logo

The other day I came across this article that shows a few modern logos looking eerily similar to logos found over 30 years ago. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the most similar ones:


If you don’t want to go through and read the article, the writer, Rain Noe, admits that he is an “industrial designer who’s solely worked on three-dimensional products, I’ve never designed a logo in my life”. And he goes on to ask graphic designers and art directors the question, “is it reasonable to believe that the latter logos were created without ever having seen the black-and-white images?” So, I figured I would put in my two cents on the subject.

Starting in high school I began to notice a strange pattern occurring in my “creative” classes, from true art/design classes to writing classes. And in one of my writing classes, Mythology, I remember very clearly being told there are only seven different story plots. The basis behind this was to get us to not waste our time with trying to come up with new stories. Something very similar was taught to me in most of my design classes as well, there are no new ideas anymore. Even if you think you came up with some brilliant “new” concept, you are still pulling bits and pieces of something you have seen previously, from your subconscious. Austin Kleon even wrote a book about it, Steal Like an Artist.

Bringing this whole thing full circle, I choose to see the good in people. In this case, I prefer to believe that the designers behind the recent logos, have seen the older logos previously, but weren’t purposefully copying them. I believe the designers had pushed them deep into their subconscious and thought they had come up with a new “original” idea. Otherwise, I think they would have at least changed them a bit so they weren’t replicas.

My advice for any young designer to avoid this is simple; know where you’re getting your ideas. There are a couple reasons for this, first, if you get questioned about your design, you can trace it back and walk through the process of creation. Second, if you know where you drew your inspiration, then you can change it enough so that it doesn’t look like a replica of something you had seen in your subconscious.

Classic Macintosh Childhood

While we millennials were the first generation to grow up with computers, it turns out I had one much earlier in life than many of my friends.


I recently found this gem of a photo – from waaaay back in 1991 – at my mom’s house. That’s my sister Heather (left) and me “sharing” the keyboard and mouse of a Macintosh Classic, which our parents had tucked away in a corner of our living room. We played Asteroids and StuntCopter, and messed around in Paint as much as they’d let us. Eventually, it made its way out of the living room and into the “computer room.” (Yep – it was that important in our house that we didn’t even call it an office.)

Talk about a throwback. And talk about a pretty clear path toward becoming a designer. From my first computer at age three to a mom who owned a quilt shop and was a pattern/shape/color wizard, it all adds up.

Latest Hh Newsletter: More Choices = More Awesome


If you’ve ever come to the Helveticahaus online shop and just couldn’t make up your mind…well, we’re afraid we have some bad news for you. The selection just got bigger.

Five brand-new T-shirt designs have just been added to our inventory

Which means that, with twelve originals, one student design, and three in our artist series, we’re now offering twenty-one unique, Helvetica-inspired graphic Tts! (We thought about adding more, but 21 is a Fibonacci number,* and our proprietors are very particular about maintaining some semblance of order and control in this chaotic world of ours. Even if it’s only temporary.)

Our advice is to head over to helveticahaus.com right away. You’ll need some time to consider your options, and Christmas is only 44 shopping days away.

*It also just happens to be the smallest Fibonacci number whose digits are Fibonacci numbers and whose digit sum is also a Fibonacci number, so, you know…win-win.

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Tired of Politics Yet?

You’re not the only one. Here’s something else to entertain yourself for a few hours.

They’re called stereograms, and the easiest way to view the hidden 3D image is to start with your nose about one inch away from your screen and stare at it for a few seconds. Then slowly back away.




It can take a while to get the hang of it, but don’t give up! If you found these to be too easy, or you want to see some others, you can view more here.