Greatest fonts countdown: 92 - Chalet

FontShop AG, the renowned type foundry, conducted a survey based on historical relevance, sales at, and aesthetic quality. With a few additions from the experts at Creative Bloq and Computer Arts magazine, the best fonts ever were selected for the new book, 100 Best Typefaces Ever.

Here we are counting down the 100 greatest fonts, but you can read interviews with some of the typefaces' creators, a brief history of type, the anatomy of a font, and much, much more in the book – find out how to get your copy in print or digital formats at the foot of this post.

But without further ado, the 92rd best typeface is the font with a fabricated history that fooled us all – but nevertheless has a distinctive flair to it…

92. Chalet

  • House Industries, 1996

For the launch of the three fonts in the Chalet package – variations on famous classics like Helvetica, Futura and Avant Garde – design agency House Industries invented a fictional history centred on a designer by the name of René Albert Chalet. The story goes: he had allegedly made his money in fashion in the 1940s, and designed a few typefaces along the way. As such, House led the design world up the garden path, accusing it of ignorance of its own history.

The story was convincingly portrayed – with quotes from prominent designers – and many people believed it. Magazines published articles on the Chalet fonts and their history, oblivious to the fact that it was entirely made up. 'Facts' were accepted, such as the suggestion that Chalet had been released 13 years earlier than Helvetica – effectively declaring Helvetica a copy.

There was criticism of the story, however. Emigre's Rudy Vanderlans was not at all impressed by the tale: "You can tell people just about anything about the origins of a font, since typeface design already suffers from a great deal of anonymity," he said. He also wished House Industries had shown as much respect to Chalet's true models – Helvetica and Futura – as to Big Daddy Roth (Rat Fink Fonts) and Ed Benguiat.

However, the charade was not detrimental to Chalet's success, in fact quite the opposite. Within a matter of weeks, the font package was famous around the world. "Modest and unpretentious yet bold and daring, Chalet's distinctive air allows for a variety of uses ranging from text to display applications," says House Industries on its site.

Chalet has four different styles – all named after cities – with years (1960, 1970, 1980) defining the weights

Chalet has four different styles – all named after cities – with years (1960, 1970, 1980) defining the weights

The 100 Best Typefaces Ever

This is an extract from The 100 Best Typefaces Ever, the definitive guide to the greatest fonts ever created, in association with FontShop AG. Over 180 premium pages, the book dissects the world's greatest typefaces, bringing you some insightful background on each and interviews with their creators.

You can pick up the book at all good newsagents today or order it online. Or you can download a digital edition directly to your iPad from the Computer Arts app on iTunes.

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Rob Carney

Rob is editorial, graphic design and publishing lead at Transport for London. He previously worked at Future Publishing over the course of several years, where he launched digital art magazine, ImagineFX; and edited graphic design magazine Computer Arts, as well as the Computer Arts Projects series, and was also editor of technology magazine, T3.