Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The font that escaped the Nazis and landed on the moon

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You know Futura.

With those knife sharp Vs and wide circle Os,

it cornered the market on that retro-future-cool thing.

Futura defined Barbara Krugers art and helped streetwear company Supreme

rip her off...I mean, create a loving homage to her work.

Its such a Wes Anderson cliche that complaining that its a cliche is a cliche.

Its on wedding invitations from those friends of yours who put Urban Outfitters

on their wedding registry.

But Futura overcame a lot to get this far.

Like Nazis.

(Yes, those Nazis.)

Paul Renner designed Futura, and he came to it

from book design, where it was key to communicate clearly.

It was the 1920s and the Bauhaus school of design was becoming popular.

Think cool looking chairs that are really uncomfortable.

Renner wasnt part of that school, but like Bauhaus designers, he wanted function and

beauty.

At the time, when people thought of German typography, they thought of fraktur style

typography, and Renner thought it didn't work.

He said fraktur was like lederhosen.

Outdated and quaint.

So after a couple of years of development, Futura went on the market in 1927.

It was sold asthe typeface of our time.”

This thing was modern.

Some early designs were even crazier, with extremely geometric figures, like this g,

or this a.

That look was in the air with other typefaces, like Johnston and Akzidenz Grotesk, but Renner

thought Futura was unique.

He called it aneminently German typefaceand

the type foundry, Bauer, sold it as the type of the future.

It gained broad international distribution, showing up on charts or being overlaid on

pictures.

It became a symbol of the future - and for the Nazis, that was the problem.

That fraktur - the Gothic style Renner rejectedbecame the Nazi look in the 1930s.

And the Nazis starting scrubbing out modern fonts in favor of ornate styles.

At the same time, Renner became an outcast after he wrote a famous anti-Nazi essay.

He was arrested and briefly in exile from Germany.

Sans-serif type was cast out too.

But Nazis were inconsistent.

Renner returned to Germany, and Nazis occasionally even used Futura.

Look at these pages from a Nazi design manual.

Aside from the Fraktur and little Nazi paper cut out dolls, which were uniform guides,

there are a couple of charts in Futura.

In 1941, the Nazis reversed course.

Out of the blue, they decided their beloved Fraktur was aJewishstyle, so they

banned it.

Theyd really come around to Renners idea, that the German typeface of the future

had to be more readable.

But by that time, Futura was established as an international typeface.

That might be what saved it.

During World War II, a lot of different, modern-looking sans-serif fonts were kicking around NASAs

predecessor, NACA, and the rest of the American military.

At the time, people chose fonts based on the availability of physical pieces of type.

Futura was...around, and it was clear and modern . That made it an obvious choice for

a very important job.

When NASA needed a plaque for Apollo 11, they chose one font;

they pulled from a typeface the would become beloved by

Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson alike.

They used the uniquely German design that through a talented and idealistic creator,

traveled beyond the Nazis, beyond the 1940s, beyond Germany, and beyond this planet, too.

Well read the plaque thats on the front landing gear of this L.M.

Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon.

July 1969.”

They chose Futura.

There are a lot of reasons that Futura has that extremely modern, international feel.

One of those reasons, though, is really German.

A lot of people credit Volkswagen with bringing Futura to a new generation and also into the

mainstream.

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