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Probably the most important geometric sans typeface, often imitated but never (quite) excelled. Designed by Paul Renner for the old German Bauer foundry (today the Fundición Tipográfica Bauer in Spain) between 1927 and 1930. Strongly influenced by the Weimar-era minimalist spirit that also played a role in the Bauhaus school (Renner himself was not a member of the Bauhaus). The large Futura family comprises one of the earliest sans serif type systems, and has grown over the years to include a complementary condensed family, a wide range of weights, and obliques.
Almost 80 years later, Futura's popularity as a crisp, clean sans serif typeface has not waned, and versions of the family are available from almost every major vendor. The original designs owned by Fundición Tipográfica Bauer are distributed via the Spanish foundry Neufville Digital, who offer a superior version of the family with old style figures and small caps. Futura as Renner originally conceived it was definitely a product of the experimental spirit of the times, and included a wide variety of radically diverse alternate forms for various letters. While not offered by Bauer with the original metal version of the typeface, and then left unavailable for many years, these alternate forms were included by The Foundry in their issue of Architype Renner.
In the 1980s, Adrian Frutiger took inspiration from Futura in his design of Avenir, and later Avenir Next (with Akira Kobayashi, 2004). These are less new typefaces than revisions of Futura to match Frutiger's model of how the sans serif typeface should work.
"Best" digital version of Futura
See also Steile Futura.