Futura paper

rusty's picture

Hello all Typophiles,

I am in need of your assistance, I am assigned to write a paper on the typeface FUTURA for my Advanced Type class. I am curious do any of you have any available info on the typeface? I am open to almost anything, as long as it is relevant to:

The typeface, its designer (Paul Renner) or its use.

Please share you opinions as well, of the type face or designer, etc.


Norbert Florendo's picture

Hi Russ,
are you still working on your paper? Seems like your request for info got lost in the Forum. How deep is your paper on Futura?

Quick links:
Paul Renner (Linotype site)
Review of Paul Renner: The Art of Typography

Yes, I'm old, but I'm back in style!

Miss Tiffany's picture

More than the review, I can whole-heartedly recommend that book!

Hildebrant's picture

Maybe you should also look into the Font Architype Renner.

BTW, Where can we buy Architype Renner?

carl's picture

I was in a similar circumstance during my final year of art school. I did a comprehensive review of the origins of the sans-serif, as well as some fairly detailed analysis of the relationship of modernism to type design. I worked for several weeks on a paper of nearly 50 pages in length. I had discussed the paper thouroughly beforehand with my instructor so I felt fairly sure about what grade to expect. However, when the paper came back, I had received a grade of D+. Why? At the time, I didn't actually have Futura on my system and had set the paper in Avenir. When I asked the instructor about it, he went off on an insane tirade about how the most sucessful type designers were the best rip-off artists. I pointed out that Robert Slimbach had done a pretty swell job of ripping off Frutiger, but that just seemed to make him angrier. I never graduated from that school, but years later I did receive an associates degree from a local junior college. Let this be a warning to you.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

As far as I know the history of sans and geometrics is not very well documented. (Anyway, not as much as compared to serif, where every fart Claude Garamond passed has been discussed by learned scholars, haha.)

Back on topic: Renners Futura was a spec, commisioned by the Bauersche' Schriftgießerij(please bear with any typo's and smallish mistakes — I'm not in the 'hood of my library) as they perceived a growing demand for constructivist typefaces (yes, marketeers ruled even then!). Paul Renner bypassed the use of compasses and rulers, but was pretty good at manually doing circles etcetera. He drew a remarkable set of characters.

Too remarkable to be marketable, so his client asked for some alternate designs that were more in line of current taste. And belo: Futura was born. It proved to be so succesfull, that all the other Schriftgießereien of the time (that's German for Typepublishing in lead) wanted teir own versions. Ergo typefaces like Metro, Nobel and so on.

Fast forward to the late 90's and you'll notice digital versions that incorporate the original glyphs Renner designed but were considered to fiendish, eg a wonderful g.
That's The Foundry's Archetype Renner, to you and me.

(I have a late fifies speciman of Futura somewhere, stille printed in letterpress. Fonts go through the same fashion trends as clothing. Futura was thé font before Adolf took over. Doyle Dane Bernbach US Volkswagen campaign in the sixties made Futura once again fashionable. My prediction: it's gonna be the 'it' font for 2006.)

And Carl: I used to (re)sell my papers to fellow students (not in my class, of course!) and they ALWAYS got higher grades than I did. Go figure.

hrant's picture

> it’s gonna be the ‘it’ font for 2006.

Oh no. Is there anything I can do to stop that?


Bert Vanderveen's picture

Yes, Hrant,

Go commercial and create THE font for next year ; )
You have three months…

hrant's picture

I've been on it for 5 years now. I even have an advertising
campaign planned. All I need now is divine intervention.


rs_donsata's picture

Futura is so well made that it resists more than any other typeface I know the abuse of the layman.


Norbert Florendo's picture

> All I need now is divine intervention.

Divine intervention? Did I hear someone call for Divine intervention?

Yes, I'm here!

Hildebrant's picture

So, where can I buy The Foundry’s Archetype Renner??

paul d hunt's picture

kyle, have you checked the foundry's website?

or if you can hang on another month... Lanston will be releasing Twentieth Century with many of the Renner alternates.

Hildebrant's picture

I couldn't find that website, thanks.

I will look for the Lanston release, too. I have not heard from Gerald in some time, I assume he might be sailing? I'm really glad he hooked up with the P22 guys.

rusty's picture

Fellow Typophiles,

Thanks very much I appreciate all your enthusiasm and knowledge! I am editing my paper now and all of you have helped in one way or another. The assignment has changed somewhat, my instructor Matt Normand has told the class to edit the papers and use the text to create a Type Sample book for (FUTURA) our assigned font.

Do any of you know where I could find reference, ie.. examples of Type Sample books?

Thanks again!

~ Rusty

Isaac's picture

My belated advice is to look at the difference between letterpressed Futura and any generic digital version. I try not to use Futura in a digital context, but I like to use it in small point sizes on letterpress stuff.

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