Only Futura
by Paul Renner
is still topical.

Jost Hochuli


Wernigerode, 1878 – Hödingen, 1956

Amongst the most important type designers of the century, Renner studies painting at the Kunstakademie in Berlin and later at the Academy of Karlsruhe and Munich, where he works as a painter for Muller Verlag (1907-1917). In the same year he joins the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation), showing great enthusiasm in every field. From 1925 to 1926 he works at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Frankfurt and starts designing the typeface Futura (which he develops in 1928). In 1926, back in Munich, he becomes the director of the Grafische Berufsschulen, a school of graphic design. In 1933 he takes care of the Deutscher Werkbund at the V Triennale in Milan, a project that is widely appreciated. In the same year he is expelled from the school by the Nazis, but the totalitarian regime does not stop him from continuing his work as a graphic designer and publishing Mechanisierte Grafik. Schrift, Typo, Foto, Film, Farbe (1931) and Die Kunst der Typografie (1940). Besides Futura (his masterpiece) other noteworthy typefaces are: Plak (1928), Futura Black (1929), Futura Licht (1932), Futura Schlagzeile (1932), Ballade (1937), Renner Antiqua (1939) and Steile Futura (1952).

In 1928 the Bauer foundry releases the first version of the typeface Futura, followed by the production, by popular demand, of the rest of the family. This geometrical Sans-serif is widely appreciated and still used today, like all the experimental typefaces of those years, starting from Herbert Bayer’s Universal of 1925 and other Bauhaus productions. In the original project, the lower case letters have extremely revolutionary characteristics; in fact, Renner decides to set them aside, as they are not clear enough. The upper case letters refer to earlier models, but this does not prevent Renner from designing the most representative typeface of the new typographic trends. Its success is guaranteed by the geometric simplification of each letter and a rich series of optical corrections, which make it proportioned and elegant. This is evident when overlapping letters “c” and “a” with their mirrored image. From 1933 to 1934, Edoardo Persico, director of “Casabella”, chooses Futura for the new version of the magazine. And many years later it still remains influential and a source of inspiration for numerous successful typographic projects, such as Herbert Lubalin’s Avant Garde (1970).


  • Futura, Font, 1928
  • Futura, Font Adv, 1930
  • Futura Schmuck, Specimen cover, 1928
  • Futura, Font, 1928
  • Futura, Font, 1928
  • Futura, Study, 1928


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