For the practical assignment it was necessary to submit an accompanying presentation and written piece. As I wished to convey continuity throughout my work it was important for me that the typeface utilised for the submission was suitable, and expressive of the key word ‘geometry’. Therefore I chose a befitting typeface; Futura.
Hood, J., n.d. Futura Specimen. [electronic print] Available at: <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/FuturaSP.png> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
Futura was developed from 1924 to 1926 before its commercial release in 1927 by Paul Renner, adhering to Bauhaus design principles.1 The typeface was commissioned by the Bauer Type Foundry, it is said in reaction to Ludwig & Mayer’s Erbar, five years previous.2 Following Bauhaus convention, the Futura typeface features sans-serif characters abiding to the principles of the new typography and eschewing superfluous ornamentation.3
Each letterform is derived from simple geometric shapes, near perfect circles, triangles and squares. This seemed appropriate as one aspect of the practical piece was the construction of legible letterforms from many smaller components of simple geometric shapes. Furthermore the simplicity of the consistent stroke width agrees with the consistent size of the geometric components composing my final piece.
Ellen Lupton, previously acclaimed author of “Thinking with Type” indicates the geometric ‘o’ letterforms link Futura with the experiments of the Bauhaus.4 I am fond of this concept, keeping a hint of the monumental work of the Bauhaus amongst my postmodern attempts.
The original typeface was released in Light, Medium, Bold and Bold Oblique in 1928,5 and therefore I have chosen to limit myself to this original set, maintaining the original simplicity of the text originally intended throughout my annotations.
Interestingly Futura was not always popular, in 1933 it was banned in Hanover by the Lord Mayor, believed to not conform to Germanic Style.6 Despite this exception, Futura has been widely used across its lifetime and I believe will continue to do so.
Notably Futura was the first typeface on the moon, featuring on a commemorative plaque left in 1969.7
Phillips, C. H., n.d. Apollo 11 Plaque. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2009/sep/02/ikea-font-futura#/?picture=352456573&index=2> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
Futura also formed the identity for many household names, Domino’s Pizza, Absolut Vodka, and as most of us undoubtably know until recent years, Ikea.
Domino’s Pizza – Futura Condensed Extra Bold
Anon, n.d. Domino’s Pizza Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <http://projectupdate.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/dominos.gif> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
Absolut Vodka – Futura Condensed Extra Bold
Anon, n.d. Absolut Vodka Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <http://blog-cache6.webink.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/absolut_vodka.jpg> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
Ikea – Futura (Various)
Anon, 2009. Ikea Catalogue. [electronic print] Available at: <http://manolohome.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/ikea-catalogue.jpg> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
Many were disappointed when Ikea replaced their use of Futura font with the screen-based font, Verdana. Quoted in a New York Times’ article, Ikea spokeswoman Camilla Meiby stated;
“. . . I think it’s mainly experts who have expressed their views, people who are interested in fonts. I don’t think the broad public is that interested.”8
Which brought me to consider, is it only graphic designers, focussed on typography who notice the difference, or does the non-designer relate to typeface with regards to beauty? Certainly I have felt frustrated in the past when a client is adamant that Comic Sans should be utilised as a ‘fun’ typeface, or a previous employers’ obsession with Century Gothic, but I believe everyone responds to typeface whether consciously or subconsciously. This will be explored further in a future post.
Within the New York Times article on the Ikea change, it is expressed that it is in order for Ikea to approach a more web-based angle, in which case a change of typeface is potentially appropriate, responding to needs analysis.
Finally, one of my idols, Barbara Kruger continually uses Futura within her work. The contrast between the Futura Bold Oblique and the stark images sucessfully conveys her messages, often of political, social or economic agenda.
Kruger, B., 1989. Your Body Is A Battleground. [electronic print] Available at: <http://fontsinuse.com/uploads/2010/10/body-is-a-battleground.jpg> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
1. Anon, 2011. Critical Debates in Design -task 1 : Typeface. [online] Available at: <http://youcouldbeatable.blogspot.com/2011/02/typeface.html> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
2. Anon, 2011. Futura (Typeface). [online] Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futura_(typeface)> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
3. Tschichold, J., 2006. The New Typography: A Handbook for Modern Designers. Translated from German by Ruari McLean. London: University of California Press. pp.52-53.
4. Lupton, E., 2009, cited by Versluis, 2011. Futura and the Dordt College Architectural Sign of 1955. [online] Available at: <http://dcaiga.blogspot.com/2011/09/futura-and-dordt-college-architectural.html> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
5. Anon, 2011. Futura (Typeface). [online] Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futura_(typeface)> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
6. Lupton, E. and Cohen, E. L., 1996. Letters from the Avant Garde: Modern Graphic Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. p.55.
7. Anon, 2009. From Nasa to Ikea: the story of the classic font Futura. The Guardian, [online] 3rd September 2009. Available at: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2009/sep/02/ikea-font-futura#/?picture=352473558&index=0> [Accessed 27th December 2011].
8. Meiby, C., 2009, cited in Rothstein, E., 2009. Typography fans say Ikea should stick to furniture. The New York Times, [online] 4th September 2009. Available at: <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/05/arts/design/05ikea.html?pagewanted=all> [Accessed 27th December 2011].