In typography, Futura is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed in 1927 by Paul Renner. It is based on geometric shapes that became representative visual elements of the Bauhaus design style of 1919–1933. Commissioned by the Bauer Type Foundry, in reaction to Ludwig & Mayer’s seminal Erbar of 1922, Futura was commercially released in 1927.
The family was originally cast in Light, Medium, Bold, and Bold Oblique fonts in 1928. Light Oblique, Medium Oblique, Demibold, and Demibold Oblique fonts were later released in 1930. Book font was released in 1932. Book Oblique font was released in 1939. Extra Bold font was designed by Edwin W. Shaar in 1952. Extra Bold Italic font was designed in 1955 by Edwin W. Shaar and Tommy Thompson. Matrices for machine composition were made by Intertype.
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. Renner’s initial design included several geometrically constructed alternative characters and ranging (old-style) figures, which can be found in the typeface Architype Renner.
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.
Original Futura design also included small capitals and the old-style figures, which were dropped from the original metal issue of the type. The digital versions of these glyphs were first produced by Neufville Digital under the Futura ND family.