Futura burning

Let me tell you a little story about Futura.

Yes, the geometric sans-serif typeface designed by Paul Renner and released in 1927. You probably know it was created as a contribution to the New Frankfurt project. You probably also know it’s been used on film posters, iconic publications like Vanity Fair and even on the plaque at the foot of the lunar landing vehicle on the moon to alert any visitors that we come apparently in peace.

A typeface of its time and somehow for all time. The perfect circled ‘o’, the twisted ‘?’, the dashing ‘&’. Modern, egalitarian, forward, focused. Crisp and easy to read.

Renner was not interested in fashion and the latest trends rippling through Germany. His prime inspiration was Roman Capitalis with its basic geometric shapes as his foundation. He wanted a typeface that would never grow old.

The Nazis had other ideas. They favored heavyweight 15th Century black Gothic typefaces because they spoke of real German values. They saw them as an indispensable defence against the threat of becoming less German.

The Nazis felt that Renner and other revolutionary designers trying to break free from the past were essentially anti-German. They denounced Renner as ‘nationally untrustworthy.’ In 1933, they labeled him an intellectual subversive and at the age of 55 was forbidden to work at a regular job for the rest of his life.

Ironically, two years later, the Nazis reversed their policy on typography. They condemned Gothic typefaces as abominations promoted by Jewish printers and proclaimed clean fonts to be the state-sanctioned letterform. Futura quickly became their favorite.

Especially for printed invites to Nazi book burnings.

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