February 21, 2012

Tuesday Typefaces: Futura

Examples of Futura typefaces
Despite my penchant for serif typefaces, the less decorative sans-serif families, with their focus on readability, revolutionized type design. They are just as much pieces of artwork as their more ornate counterparts, despite an appearance that may seem at first glance to be "basic" or "plain." Commonly used for both the small type in magazines and the large type in billboards, sans-serif faces such as Futura are clean, non-nonsense typefaces that are incredibly versatile.

Futura is known as a geometric sans-serif typeface, one regarded for its symmetry (especially seen in the "a" and the "o") and modern look and feel. Created in 1927 by Paul Renner, who was commissioned by the Bauer Type Foundry to create a typeface to compete with Erbar, Futura was released in many different weights at once. In 1928, Futura Medium was released simultaneously with Light, Bold, and Bold Oblique weights. By 1930, Light Oblique, Medium Oblique, Demibold, and Demibold Oblique typefaces were all released, followed by Book in 1932. Extra Bold Italic, the most recently produced, was released in 1955.

In order to create a typeface that recalls efficiency and forwardness, Renner designed Futura from simple geometric shapes: even circles, equilateral triangles, and perfect squares. Each letter used strokes of even weight, so each part of the letter, such as the tail of the "a," is just as thick as the base of letter. The uppercase characters are also very proportional, as seen in "HEADLINE TYPE," that make it perfect for posters and news titles. With proportions similar to those of classical Roman capitals, and weights in everything from extra bold to light, Futura is a typeface family perfect for nearly every letterpress project. From subway signs to postcards...

-Christina Squitieri

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