This is a perennial question from non-designers and folks who don’t use typefaces. They do, of course, need them on a daily basis. Modern life would grind to a halt if every typeface suddenly vanished overnight. Typefaces are so ingrained into our existence that it seems like they’ve always been there. It’s a “problem” that’s been “solved”. Most people don’t see the typeface, not consciously anyway, they read the words. To notice the forms of the letters is a learned, higher-level process and largely unnecessary for daily life. If meaning and information have been sucessfully extracted from the words, conscious recognition of the typeface is unnecessary: any old typeface will do.
However, if this were strictly true, the purpose of typography would be to merely convey information, to crystallise spoken words into symbols. It would thus render people as simple automatons blithely absorbing data. Efficient, but utterly joyless. Our relationship to typography is like our relationship to food—we eat for pleasure, not simply for nutrition.
Delightful short piece about the meaning and purpose of typography by Klim Type Foundry.via klim.co.nz