FutuRa

FutuRa Project:

Futura

“Type reveals not only the character of whoever designed it. It also reveals the character of the people who use it, just like the handwriting of the individual. `therefor, what sort of character we use concerns us all..Each populace has the script it deserve, for each time period, the script that corresponds to its nature.
And what could our type be other than a “true, right landmark of the German soul.”

This is what I’ve produced for the brief in which I was asked to produce a poster to sell a particular type. The type that I’ve chosen is Futura crafted by Paul Renners; the poster is a typographic composition made of words of the author taken either from some of his dairies or notes while crafting this excellent type, this phrase are placed in horizontal or vertical in the 4 different version in which it was first create: condensed medium, condensed extrabold, medium and italic medium. The poster is trying to lead the eye and the audience (which is meant to be graphic designers or people within the environment) attention to certain statement and belief which are particularly important for me and I’m sure for Renner too. For example “Forms define legibility” or ” Visual standard are debased by mass media” or “geometric sans-serif” or “serif-less roman” etc. I do like the way in which those line interact with each other as a lots of information floating in the space, in order to provide the image with some sort of depth of field I’ve decided to make the closer sentences fully visible (black, 100% transparency) while the one on the back much lighter (greyish, 20/30/40% transparency) with some of them almost hard to read, this one are almost supporting the one that stays on top. I decided to keep it Black&White even tough I seriously thought about placing an element of colour but the it would have took over the rest of the sentences deriving in a lack of interest for all the other words that are equally interesting and important to describe Futura.

Renner even before being a typographer was a philosopher and maybe that’s why I’ve loved so much study and discover about this great man who was seeking to reform the national in first instance and international conception of writing, returning to “..a typography that could be returned to its true function of being read rather than written by the careful balance of functional and formal aspects of typography” By this he meant that Futura main aim was to provide effectiveness and readability  regardless of interest of the foundry, he didn’t see his type as a business to make money but rather as a means for communication, clear and simple. The absence of any sort of decoration and man made detail confirm its intent of elevating the pure and basic form of the letter of the alphabet with style that wasn’t something on which he was concerned. By doing this he was moving away from all the serif types that were spreading throughout the world, it was a great innovation – innovation that wasn’t much liked by the Nazi Party of the early 30s as much as they decided to ban it from Germany, in a way this has to  be seen as a great fortune for Renner and his type because thanks to this they both gained international success rather than just in Germany.

This project has helped me to discover what a great interest I have in form and geometry even more and the relationship between shapes and white spaces, I believe that there will be more to follow of this researches. Here follows more examaple of my work related to the same project, I do like them as well but I did believe that they recall to much the early modernism and all the Sovietic Design of the beginning of the century making my design a little bit boring:

Futura poster2

 

Futura poster2

“Futura is a sans-serif typeface designed in 1927by Paul Ranner. It is based on geometric shapes that became representative visual elements of the Bauhaus movement. The family was originally published in Light, Medium, Bold, and Bold Oblique fonts in 1928. Light Oblique, Medium Oblique, fonts were later released in 1930. Book font was released in 1932.

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.

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, which is nonetheless 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.”

This bit of research was taken from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futura_%28typeface%29

The first half of 20th century is the end of the Modern era, the moment when revived typefaces were flooding the typography mainstream.  But it was also the time when a completely different font design was booming, called sans serif (which is French for “without serifs”).  It wasn’t an absolutely new idea at that time, since first sans serif faces had appeared in the beginning of 19th century; but never before this seemingly peripheral and exotic trend claimed so much importance as in 1920s and 30s.

Actually, it is amazing that the simple idea of dropping serifs at the ends of strokes didn’t occur to the great many typographers who experimented with their shapes and sizes so much.  In part, it is due to the inertia of scribes’ tradition who, with their quills, simply could not produce a reasonably clean cut of a stroke.  Undoubtedly, old typographers also knew the fact that was later confirmed by experiments: Serifs help the eye to stick to the line and thus facilitate reading.

But the biggest part of the serif persistence was, of course, due to plain habit.  When the first examples of sans serif fonts finally appeared, they seemed so controversial that the first name given to them was “grotesque,” and they were very rarely used except in advertising.  And so it remained until the newest trends in art and industrial design, most notably the German Bauhaus movement of 1920s (influenced by earlier Russian constructivism), required adequate means of typographic expression.  These movements stressed utilitarian aspects in design, claiming that a thing becomes beautiful only when—and because—it serves a practical purpose, denying any attempts to artificially “adorn” it.

The most influential type design of that epoch, the Futura font created in Germany in 1928, displayed the core of the Bauhaus ideology: strictly geometric outline, lacking any embellishments and just barely conforming to the historical shapes of letters.  The resulting blend of geometric consistency and aesthetic awkwardness may be disputable, but it was at least something quite new, and therefore impressive, at that time.  Now we’re much more accustomed to the look of Futura (and its many derivatives), but the inborn radicalism of the font still shows through.”

this bit of research was taken from:

http://www.webreference.com/dlab/9802/sansserif.html

Paul Renner: The Art of Typography

Review by Patrick Baglee
The aquiline features of Paul Renner punctuate the chapters of Hyphen Press’s “Paul Renner: the art of typography.” This richly illustrated and methodically constructed work records, with great integrity, Renner’s contribution to modern typography and design. Renner is most often associated with Futura, one of the century’s most popular typefaces. Yet the picture that emerges from Christopher Burke’s text defines a figure whose impact on design, through a mixture of pragmatism and diplomacy, is as profound as it is little understood.Paul Renner (1878–1956) lived through tumultuous industrial and political change in twentieth-century Germany. He began his career as a “book artist” in Munich and became a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, where he spoke on the value of quality in design. He taught with Georg Trump and Jan Tschichold at the printing school in Munich, simultaneously working on the design of the Futura typeface, before being dismissed from his teaching post by the Nazis in 1933. Uncertainty was the foundation on which his entire craft was based. 

Renner was born in 1878, one of five sons, and spent his childhood under the control of his theologian father. Although he enjoyed a solid education, he emerged with no clear ideals and felt he inhabited “an artificial world that stood alongside the real one.” Though he had no particular goals in sight, the real world offered Renner sustenance in the form of painting commissions, including landscapes for the magazine Simplicissimus in Munich, where he was to settle with his wife Annie. In 1907 he became a father, and so sought a steady income, beginning as a book designer at Georg Müller Verlag.

Starting with the design of book spines and occasional text illustrations, Renner focused on the search for a balance between typography and illustration. He participated in debates on the utilitarian nature of book design at the Deutscher Werkbund and similar forums. It seems that he had an innate capacity for hard work: in 1913, Müller and Renner oversaw the publication of some 287 new editions. One relative of Renner’s said: “A day when he did nothing, at least read nothing serious, was for him a day sadly lost.”

In 1924, amidst political upheaval, the debate on roman versus gothic reached the crisis point. Renner’s own views on this issue were the result of long periods of research. He recognized the benefits of gothic’s truncated curves in saving space in the setting of lengthy compound words; but against this, he pointed out that gothic script had its origins in courtly printing – designed for luxury and not for everyday use. In conclusion, Renner regarded gothic as a decadence, and its capitals as “monstrosities.” (He refused to accept the necessity of ugliness in design even when it met a practical purpose.)

Renner saw roman as forming the trunk of the family tree of type, with roman capitals as the basis for all future developments in Western letterforms. And on the grounds that minuscules influenced by roman forms could be traced back to Charlemagne, whose empire included the first German Reich, Renner concluded that roman was more German than gothic. Renner created Futura both as a new form of Grotesk and as a means of getting shed some of Germany’s old-fashioned “national dress.” In particular, Renner sought a balance between capitals and lower case more effective than that of Herbert Bayer’s “universal alphabet” – a compass-and-pen typeface in which the capitals led the lowercase rather than being in harmony with it.

Futura

Three weights of the original Futura.

Futura’s genesis involved three key figures: Ferdinand Kramer, an architect with whom Renner had collaborated previously; Heinrich Jost, a craftsman at the Bauer type foundry, credited with detailing the face from Renner’s early sketches; and Futura’s patron, Jakob Hegner. Hegner was a champion of publishing books set in roman type at a time when Germany was fascinated by the effect that sans serif and gothic had on its sense of national identity. Burke’s description of Futura’s many iterations, tweakings, and eventual release is written in fastidious detail, supported by revealing illustrations.

Renner’s journey was not without incident. His arrest by the Nazis in 1933 (just a short time after the imprisonment of Jan Tschichold) is outlined here in great detail. Typography was already under scrutiny when a number of slides Renner had prepared for the German exhibit at the fifth Trienniale exhibition in Milan were felt to contain an overwhelming amount of roman type. Renner came under suspicion, and his apartment and offices were searched; but he continued to oppose Nazi philosophies on design and industry. He was released the day after his arrest, following a direct plea to Hitler from Rudolf Hess.

Soon after, and perhaps as a result of Renner’s writings, a universal alphabet was back in favor. The Nazis saw gothic as a barrier to their plans for world domination, and it was outlawed by decree in 1941. Hitler’s belief that the term “Swabacher” was poorly understood by the ordinary German meant that he could issue this diktat without fear of ridicule. Roman type suddenly became “Normalschrift” – normal type. This and similar pronouncements were made with what Burke describes as the Nazis’ “unique brand of logic.”

Following his dismissal from the Munich school, and throughout his later years, Renner wrote and occasionally lectured on design.

This book grew out of postgraduate research undertaken by typographer and typeface designer Christopher Burke at the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. During his study, Burke became less interested in Renner’s visual output and concentrated instead on the views expressed in his prolific writings, many available here for the first time in English, and of which a complete bibliography is available here for the first time. There are also numerous examples of Renner’s work, supported by thorough annotation and impeccably reproduced, as might be expected of the excellent Hyphen Press.

“Paul Renner: the art of typography” is an important contribution to our understanding of the craft. In describing Renner’s response to social and political change, Burke has woven the history of the ubiquitous Futura into a powerful narrative, rather than treating Futura as an extraordinary, isolated event. In doing so, Burke redresses the balance, and illumines a comparatively poorly known figure who, through his own work and writings, helped shape a better understanding of type design and its role – subservient or otherwise – in the social milieu.

Good typographic biographies are rare, so inevitably the historians of the craft will devour this book. And yet this is no dusty reference volume: the engaging style in which it is written has much to offer the general reader, and Renner’s ideological struggles, his unsteady passage through political upheaval, his superb work, and a determination to remain true to his beliefs, even at the risk of his liberty, make for fascinating, at times dramatic reading.”

Bit of research taken from

http://www.itcfonts.com/Ulc/2533/BookRevRenner.htm

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