Futura (typeface)

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Category Sans-serif
Classifications Geometric Sans-Serif
Designer(s) Paul Renner

Edwin W. Shaar (Extra Bold, Extra Bold Italic)

Tommy Thompson (Extra Bold Italic)
Foundry Bauer Type Foundry
Neufville Digital
Date released 1927
Re-issuing foundries Linotype, ParaType
The commemorative plaque left on the Moon in July 1969 uses Futura.

Futura is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed between 1924 and 1926 by Paul Renner. It is based on geometric shapes that became representative visual elements of the Bauhaus design style of 1919–1933.[1] Commissioned by the Bauer type foundry, Futura was commercially released in 1927.

The family was originally published in Light, Medium, Bold, and Bold Oblique fonts in 1928. Light Oblique, Medium Oblique, Demibold, and Demibold Oblique fonts were later released in 1930. Book font was released in 1932. Book Oblique font was released in 1939. Extra Bold font was designed by Edwin W. Shaar in 1952. Extra Bold Italic font was designed in 1955 by Edwin W. Shaar and Tommy Thompson.

Although Renner was not associated with the Bauhaus, he shared many of its idioms and believed that a modern typeface should express modern models, rather than be a revival of a previous design. Renner's initial design included several geometrically constructed alternative characters and ranging (old-style) figures, which can be found in the typeface Architype Renner.

Futura has an appearance of efficiency and forwardness. The typeface is derived from simple geometric forms (near-perfect circles, triangles and squares) and is based on strokes of near-even weight, which are low in contrast. (This is most visible in the almost perfectly round stroke of the o, but the shape is actually slightly ovoid.) In designing Futura, Renner avoided the decorative, eliminating non-essential elements. The lowercase has tall ascenders, which rise above the cap line. The uppercase characters present proportions similar to those of classical roman capitals.

Original Futura design also included small capitals and the old-style figures, which were dropped from the original metal issue of the type. The digital versions of these glyphs were first produced by Neufville Digital under the Futura ND family.[2]


[edit] Futura Black

Released in 1929, Futura Black is an alternate design that uses stencil letter forms.

[edit] Futura Display (Futura Schlagzeile)

Released in 1932, Futura Display uses more angular strokes, resulting in rectangular letter forms.

[edit] Futura Condensed

Futura Condensed is a condensed version of the original Futura font family. Bold and bold oblique fonts were released in 1930. Medium, medium oblique, extra bold, and extra bold oblique fonts were released in 1936. Light and light oblique fonts were released in 1950.

[edit] Steile Futura

It was Paul Renner's attempt to create a typeface that would be closer to the nineteenth century sans serifs than to the geometric model. During the course of development, Renner developed several intermediate versions. Some of the early design could be found in the experimental font called Renner-Grotesk, which appeared as a trial type casting from the Stempel type foundry in 1936. Renner kursiv, a true italic companion to the regular version, was made after Stempel had been taken over by Bauer in 1938.

The work on the type family continued in the 1940s, but Renner's poor health had slowed down the development. Renner started to work again on this project in 1951 under the name of Steile Futura (steil in German means "upright" or "steep").

The font family released by Bauer consist of mager (light), halbfett (medium), fett (bold), kursiv halbfett (medium italic), and kursiv fett (bold italic). The font family was released in 1952–1953. It was sold in German, English, Spanish, and French markets as Steile Futura, Bauer Topic, Vox, Zénith respectively.[3]

The font family has rounder letters than Futura Display. For the first time, italic type features are incorporated in the italic fonts. The fonts incorporate handwriting features, especially in italic version.

[edit] Futura ND

This version is based on the original sources of the Bauersche Giesserei, which had passed its typefaces to its Barcelona branch, Fundición Tipográfica Bauer SL. Released in 1999 by Neufville Digital – a joint venture of Fundición Tipográfica Bauer SL and Visualogik Technology & Design b.v – it includes small capitals and the old-style figures that had not been made in metal types.

Neufville Digital issued Futura, Futura Black, Futura Condensed, and Futura Display (Futura Schlagzeile) under the Futura ND family.

[edit] ParaType version

The ParaType fonts added Cyrillic characters. They were developed at ParaType (ParaGraph) in 1995 by Vladimir Yefimov. They came in only Light, Book, Medium, Demi weights.

[edit] Futura Futuris

Futuris is a redesign at ParaType (ParaGraph) in 1991 by Vladimir Yefimov that includes Cyrillic characters. Condensed styles were added by in 1993 by Vladimir Yefimov and Alexander Tarbeev. It is available in Light, Medium, Bold, Black (without oblique) weights, while condensed fonts were made in Bold, Extra Bold, all without obliques. Also available are Cameo Extra Bold (black in reverse), Shadow Light, Shadow Extra Bold (black with shadow), Volume Light.

[edit] Futura PT

This version is based on the previous ParaType design by Vladimir Yefimov, but expanded to include 7 weights, with Book, Medium, Bold, Extra Bold weights for condensed fonts. Additional Cyrillic styles were developed in 2007 by Isabella Chaeva.

[edit] Futura Eugenia

This version is based on the Futura Black, but designed at the Polygraphmash type design bureau in 1987 by Elvira Slysh.

[edit] Bukra

Bukra is an Arabic variant designed by Pascal Zoghbi. It consists of Bukra Extra Bold, which was used as an Arabic display typeface for Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai as a complement for Futura Extra Bold. The design was based on Kufi script, but using shortened descenders.

[edit] Influence on other typefaces

The success of Futura coincided with the creation of many new geometric sans-serif faces by competing foundries including Kabel, Metro, Vogue, Erbar and Spartan, Twentieth Century, and Century Gothic among others. Some were near identical copies as in Spartan and Vogue, but others, were uniquely different including Nobel and Kabel.

Typeface designer Adrian Frutiger acknowledges Futura as one of his inspirations for his 1988 typeface Avenir. More recently Futura has been the basis of Ikea Sans and Opel Sans, fonts designed (for Ikea and Opel, respectively) by Robin Nicholas.[4]

Tasse is a revival of Steile Futura.

Beteckna is inspired by Futura.

Braggadocio is based on Futura Black.

The 2000 typeface Gotham is similarly geometric and based on 1920s signage.

[edit] Usage

Futura's success spawned a range of new geometric sans-serif typefaces from competing foundries, and remains one of the most used sans-serif types into the twenty-first century. It is used prominently in the graphic identity of Union Pacific. The former Swiss airline Swissair also used Futura from the 1950s to the 1990s. Boeing commercial airplanes almost exclusively use a variation of Futura in their flightdeck labeling for both information decals and instrumentation. Futura remains an important typeface family and is used on a daily basis for print and digital purposes as both a headline and body font. Filmmaker Wes Anderson uses Futura extensively in his films, as did Stanley Kubrick. Futura was used on the commemorative plaque left on Earth's moon by Apollo 11 astronauts in July 1969 (see photo at right). American conceptual artist Barbara Kruger uses the typeface in much of her language based artwork.

The revival of the BBC series, Doctor Who uses Futura for its credits, as did the original series during the early 1970s.

In Italy, RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana and Ferrovie dello Stato use Futura as their corporate fonts.[citation needed]

Car maker Volkswagen uses in its graphic identity a version of Futura modified by Erik Spiekermann's design agency, SpiekermannPartners, called VW Headline.[5] It differs slightly from standard Futura; for example, the letter O is perfectly round so as to emulate a car tire.[6]

Wes Anderson's films Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and The Darjeeling Limited use Futura in the title sequences, in promotional material, and within the films themselves.[citation needed]

The cover of the debut album by the band Vampire Weekend was set in Futura.[citation needed]

The Sci Fi Channel uses a variation on the font family for its on-air and print branding.[citation needed]

The television series Futurama uses the font heavily.[citation needed]

The Illinois Institute of Technology uses the font for its publicity campaign.[citation needed]

It is a corporate branding font for Hewlett-Packard, where it has been used in product packages and manuals since 2004.[citation needed]

The Home Depot uses the font for print ads and signage.[citation needed]

The Reform Party of Canada which was Canada's second largest political party from 1997 to 2000, used a modified bold italicized version of Futura for its logo. The capital M used in the logo was altered from how it traditionally appears in the Futura typeface.[citation needed]

The font has also been used extensively in the fashion industry, as the logo typeface for companies such as French fashion conglomerate Louis Vuitton and British Luxury department store Harvey Nichols.[citation needed]

IKEA uses a variation of it in their advertising and catalogs, renamed to Ikea Sans.[citation needed]

The Oakland Raiders use a variation of it as their primary wordmark.[citation needed]

It was the corporate branding font of Aarhus University for decades until they switched Passata on 11 December 2008, as a part of the implementation of a new visual identity.[7]

Bennington College uses the font extensively.[citation needed]

Futura was used almost exclusively on CNN International in lower thirds, promos, and many opening titles from 1998-2006.

The NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers use the condensed variation for the numbers and letters on their player's uniforms.[8]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] Further reading

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