Monday, March 28, 2011

Typeface research: Futura

What do you use Futura for?
Its distinct look and good readability make Futura a good headline font, but it is often also used for body text. Avenir, Avant Garde, Gill Sans and Kabel are good alternatives to Futura.

The history of Futura
German typeface designer Paul Renner designed Futura in the mid-1920’s. Its geometric shapes were inspired by the Bauhaus, the German arts&crafts school/movement. The font was commercially released in 1927 with additional weights being added in the years after. Many foundries, including Adobe and URW, offer digital versions of Futura. Neufville claim to sell the most authentic version.

In 1969 the Apollo 11 astronauts left a commemorative plaque on the moon. Its text was set in Futura.
Back in the ’90s, people got so sick of Futura Extra Bold Condensed that there was a movement called ‘Art Directors Against Futura Extra Bold Condensed’.

This is OK, but it doesn't really give me a good idea about the specifics of why it was created and how it came into being. I want to know as much about the typefaces I research as possible, and then I want to look at detailed type specs, including distinctive features, what it looks like at different sizes as well as the differences across different fonts in the family.

If I'm goign to do this properly, I need to read books like 'Just My Type' to get a batter impression and then do some first hand analysis of the letterforms.

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