Type in History: Futura
by Margaret Penney | June 22, 2016
Geometric san-serifs are in vogue this year in web and logo design, so it makes sense to talk about the one that started it all, Futura. Futura is a versatile, high-quality font that is almost as popular as Helvetica. If your goal is to create a design with modern, clean elegance — you can choose Futura with confidence as your typeface of choice.
Futura was designed by Paul Renner in 1927 and was created as a contribution to the New Frankfurt project. The design is based on the simple geometries that became representative of the Bauhaus style. Renner was not part of Bauhaus but he shared their beliefs regarding fonts as expressions of modernity. Renner rejected the font styles of the past, the grotesques, their narrowness and lack of a consistent system to their weights and shape forms. The design of Futura helped usher in a new Modern age and was emblematic of the era.
Futura’s design is based entirely on simple geometric forms — triangles, squares and near-circles. The stroke weight is almost even throughout, except for on letters like the lowercase a. Futura is distinctive for its long ascenders and almost classical Roman capitals — these elements give it its stylish elegance and differentiate it from other geometric san-serifs.
Futura can be used as a display and paragraph font and is seen in many notable and historic projects.
The commemorative plaque left on the Moon in July 1969 is set in Futura.
Stanley Kubrick said Futura was his favorite typeface of all time and used it for 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Futura is on the cover of the album release of Little Red Corvette by Prince.
Futura is used as inspiration for minimal logotype projects for fashion designers Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana.
Margaret Penney is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Margaret is a teacher, designer, writer and new media artist and founder of Hello Creative Co.
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