Futura is familiar. But its journey from avant-garde German type to hipster favorite is unusual — and it includes Nazis and the moon. Follow Phil Edwards and Vox Almanac on Facebook for more:
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Note: The text in this video originally referred to a “limb” instead of “L.M.” (Lunar module.)
Vox’s Phil Edwards explains in this episode of Vox Almanac.
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The Futura font (really typeface, but let’s drop the pedantry for the sake of clarity) is famous. Futura was created by Paul Renner in 1920s Germany, just as the Bauhaus movement was picking up steam. Though Renner wasn’t Bauhaus, Futura had that flavor, which was part of the problem.
The newly powerful Nazis favored the ornate Fraktur type style to modern Futura, so they excluded both the type and its creator. Of course, Nazis are not just evil, but also often insane and inefficient — so Futura returned to Germany, as did Renner. But by that time, Futura had established itself as the international typeface of the future, and the font’s legacy was secured.
That’s even more clear when you learn about the lunar plaque that went up on Apollo 11. Futura was the font selected for that great task — making Futura the font that escaped the Nazis and landed on the moon.
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