Edited by Petra Eisele, Dr. Annette Ludwig and Isabel Naegele
520 pages, hardbound, $65.00
Published by Laurence King Publishing
Published in conjunction with an exhibition celebrating the ninetieth anniversary of Futura, held at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, this book takes readers on a geographic tour of Futura’s impact in Germany and beyond.
In 1924, Paul Renner was already a well-known type designer when he was commissioned to create “the typeface of our time.” He sketched the phrase five different ways—one of these would be used to develop what we know today as Futura. Upon its release, the typeface was immediately popular across bookmaking, signage, advertising and magazines. One 1930 ad for Futura has the headline: “A Typeface Conquers the World.”
Renner criticized Nazi cultural policy in 1932 (“Political idiocy, growing more violent and malicious every day, may eventually sweep the whole of Western culture to the ground with its muddy sleeve.”) and Futura was, for a time, negatively politicized. Chapters by Christopher Burke, Steven Heller and Andreas Koop provide fascinating reading about this time period. After pages of stunning modernist typographic designs and layouts from the late 1920s and early 1930s, it’s shocking to see Futura gracing layouts that include photos of Hitler, the swastika and other troubling signs of Nazism, including an invitation to a book burning event.
The book ends with a fun chapter about Futura’s role in the moon landing. Although Renner didn’t live to see his letterforms grace the first plaque installed off our planet, it’s a fitting tribute for this timeless typeface. —Angelynn Grant