Futura: The Typeface

Futura: The Typeface

by Petra Eisele, Annette Ludwig and Isabel Naegele

Laurence King are on a roll with their titles of late. This forthcoming ode to type – specifically Futura, one of the most popular typefaces ever created – is another cracker! We spoke to one of its contributors, the publishing legend Steven Heller.

This is a stunning examination of one of the most popular typefaces ever created, Futura. Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, the story of Futura is a fascinating one. Charting its Bauhaus origins to its use as the first font on the moon in 1969, this book tells the story of how the typeface went from representing radicalism in design to dependability. It is durable and timeless, and is worthy of being rediscovered and celebrated.

Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about what you do, your publishing background etc. 

I am co-chair of SVA/NYC MFA Design / Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program. I write the Daily Heller for printmag.com and I have authored, edited or co-authored over 170 books on graphic design, illustration, political art and satire. My current book is THE MODERNS: MIDCENTURY AMERICAN GRAPHIC DESIGN (Abrams).

How did you get involved with this title, what was your contribution? ..and what do you think of Futura?

I was asked to contribute to the project. Very specific essays that were perfectly suited to my interests. Futura and the NSDAP (I’ve done a book called Iron Fists: Branding the 20th century Totalitarian State). I’ve written books and articles on Paul Rand and Ladislav Sutnar, each users of Futura. And I’ve written about Vanity Fair and its experiment with Futura. I love the book. And the topics were right up my alley.

I always loved the typeface. When I designed, which I have not done in years, I used it often. Its geometric attributes made it easy to use in Caps and lower case. Stacking was harmonious and flushing it in large and small sizes handsome. It’s for me a classic.

This book is a collection of insights into Futura rather than one sweeping narrative voice, with multiple contributors are you aware of who is covering what to make sure there’s no overlap?

No. And of course when I saw the first edition it was all in German!

Do you see it as a sign of the increasing popularity of type in culture that books on individual typefaces are now appearing?

I’ve done almost two dozen books on type and typography. There must be something in the wind.

You’ve written extensively about type over the years, what level of appreciation or awareness of type is there these days in your opinion?

It varies. People are more aware of type as a writing tool on their computers. Designers are increasingly more interested in making type. Typographers are more skilled at using type. Its a real art and craft.

How do you decide whether you contribute to a book?  

If I have nothing to say, I turn them down. But I do like writing. I like being part of books that I don’t have to start from scratch. Its win win.

It’s no surprise so many people were involved in a title such as this – do you enjoy contributing and co-editing as much as you do leading a project? 

Everything is fun for me. I love books. I love making them and collaborating on them. I wish I could have studied film, but I’m happy in this discipline.

Any more type books in the works?

I have a second volume of type sketchbooks coming out. Its called Free Hand and its coedited with Lita Talarico. I have a few other ideas too…


Includes essays written by renowned design writers including Steven Heller, Erik Spiekermann and Christopher Burke. Edited by Petra Eisele, Professor of Design History and Design Theory at the University of Mainz; Dr. Annette Ludwig, Director of the Gutenberg Museum and Isabel Naegele, Professor of Typography at the University of Mainz.

500 illustrations
520 pages
240 x 173 mm

Buy your copy here…

Luke Tonge

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