Futura; the font, the myth, the legend. Designed by German typeface designer Paul Renner in 1927; Futura successfully became one of the most-used and adored fonts of the 20th century. Commissioned by the Bauer Type Foundry, Futura became associated with the Bauhaus due to it’s geometrical shapes, although there is no proof that there was a solid link between the two.

Let’s talk about it’s design. I’m a fan of simplicity; I like geometrical, systematical and symmetrical design. With this being said, when we were given the list of fonts I was particularly taken by that of Futura. It has a futuristic feel which still applies today, although it was designed in 1927; it’s the pinnacle of a timeless font. For me, sans serif fonts are way ahead of the game when it comes to typefaces as I believe that serif fonts are historical and traditional, and although that’s rather lovely, I believe that we should be moving forward, which is exactly what Paul Renner achieved when he created this font. He avoided creating any non-essential elements and instead made use of basic geometric shapes; circles, squares and triangle.

With it’s geometrical design, Futura established itself within the 20th century rather quickly. Paul Renner, although not associated with the Bauhaus, shared many of it’s values and views; believing that typefaces should have their own personality and express a modern view, rather than being a resurrection of previous typefaces; something I believe too as reviving a previous font could be considered modern day plagiarism, anybody whom knows about the Helvetica/Ariel debate will understand where I’m coming from. Futura has a modern and contemporary feel, reflecting from it’s sleek and crisp appearance. It is a good heading font, although it’s legibility and  easy-to-read aesthetic makes it a good typeface for body text.

When released, Futura had 3 weights; light, medium and bold but was expanded in the 30’s to include condensed, oblique and book adaptations. Today, The Futura type family has over 18 different weights and styles. However, the Macs within university only come equipped with 4; condensed medium, condensed extrabold, medium and medium italic which is a shame as I particularly like the lighter fonts within the family. You can see the rest of the family here.

I was surprised when I realised that Futura scripted in the use of ligatures within their type family. This being said, I really like the flow within their font when using ligatures as it adds to Futura’s renown sleek aesthetic. As it’s a contemporary font, the use of ligatures is used for that of a decorative marker, rather than a purposeful one, but it still blends in well with the rest of the font, compares to some fonts where sometimes they can look out of place.

Today, Futura is somewhat of a typeface celebrity, being used on many different corporate logos, advertisements and it has even been to the moon. Can you believe a font has accomplished more than me and you? Astounding. The infamous typeface is used for companies like Absolut Vodka (a personal favourite), Louis Vuitton, Costco, Hewlett-Packard and has even been used in film; 2001: A Space Odyssey. Let’s talk about space, and how this font has accomplished more than me. In 1969, Apollo 11 visited the moon and Futura was chosen as the font to be used on the commemorative plaque they would leave to commemorate their mission.


The Field Guide to Typography by Peter Dawson




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