Never Use Futura

I’m really enjoying this irreverently titled new paperback from the good people at Princeton Architectural Press. Never Use Futura, by Douglas Thomas, is an incredibly thorough exploration and investigation of Futura, a bold alternative to the perhaps equally popular (and equally divisive) Helvetica. In short, it puts Futura in social and historical context. It begins with the birth of the typeface, and explores many examples of its eclectic popularity throughout modern history. Strangely, nearly as many “bad” institutions and groups have employed these letters as “good” ones have – with some surprising examples at either ends of that spectrum. There is also a look at typefaces that are similar to Futura, and finally, typefaces that were born out of Futura. Aside from being quite fascinating in subject, I found the design and layout, also handled by Douglas Thomas, to be absolutely beautiful – another reason why Never Use Futura is easy to pick up and surprisingly hard to put down. Some spreads are super clean and appropriately minimal, while others have a vaguely ’70s science textbook style which I really dig. When should you use Futura? You’ll have to read it to find out.

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