Unless you’ve been living in a Brutalist cave, you’re probably very much aware that 2019 is the centenary of the foundation of the Bauhaus school, and there’s no shortage of exhibitions and projects celebrating the designers, artists, and educators that made it. We’ve traced the origins of the Japanese Bauhaus; examined #Bauhaus in the social media age; and celebrated the impact of grid-loving weaving maverick Anni Albers.
Thanks to the design world’s longstanding adoration of everything relating to the big B, over the years numerous type designers and foundries have released their own Bauhaus-inspired typefaces. Among those we’ve previously highlighted on Eye on Design are Jägermeister’s bespoke typeface; the Bauhaus geometry-inspired FS Lucas; and Sawdust studio’s Bauhaus-meets-Didone font, Quainton. Some look directly to the school and those who taught or studied there; others reference the Bauhaus style in more subtle ways, playing with ideas around geometry, and drawing directly from Bauhaus archives and sketches. Here, we round up six Bauhaus-inspired typefaces from around the world.
Joost, by José Manuel Urós
No prizes for guessing who Joost is named after (yes, it’s Bauhaus typographer Joost Schmidt.) When José Manuel Urós first created the typeface in 1995, he drew from Schmidt’s poster bauhaus im gewerbemuseum basel, as well as the broader structures and styles of Bauhaus type. Urós is said to have been fascinated with such experimental yet regimented letter shapes since early childhood, and this project was a way for him to study them in depth and use them to create a functional typeface.
The first version of Joost was directly related to Herbert Bayer’s Universal Alphabet, which contains only lower case characters. However, Joost expanded beyond the constraints of Bayer’s alphabet to include diacritics, punctuation and a full 256 ASCII table of codes, symbols, and signs. The second version, released in 2009, saw a number of developments and improvements to the typeface including the addition of uppercase letters. In 2016—86 years since the creation of Schmidt’s poster—Joost was updated again to contain a complete character set of Central European, OpenType features, and a new system of curves.
Julien, by Peter Bil’ak
Typotheque type foundry founder Peter Biľak designed Julien in 2011. The designer doesn’t directly cite the Bauhaus as a reference, instead he describes Julien as a “playful geometric display typeface loosely inspired by the early 20th century avant-garde.” The font is based on elementary shapes and comes in two weights: one very light and one very dark. “Each weight comes with three different styles, round, square and mixed,” Bil’ak explains. “The style name indicates the predominantly used shapes within the set, so you can choose the visual character of your words accordingly.” There are a whopping number of variants to each letter—more than 1,000 glyphs per style, in fact.
Mohol Type, by Hungarumlaut
Eagle-eyed readers will spot the Bauhaus connection here immediately: The Mohol typeface is named after Hungarian Bauhaus painter and photographer László Moholy-Nagy. Designed by Adam Katyi of the Austria-based Hungarumlaut type foundry, Mohol was originally created for the László Moholy-Nagy Design Grant in 2016. “The brief was to design a new typeface, in respect of László Moholy-Nagy’s work and heritage,” says Katyi, who also teaches at the Moholy-Nagy Art and Design University.
According to Katyi, the typeface was inspired by a question posed by the late graphic designer and typographer Áron Jancsó’: “What is the best way to design a sans serif, mono-linear typeface with an old classical tool, like a broad nib pen?” The result is a high-contrast sans serif developed from experiments with brushes and Pilot Parallel Pens, whose various tip-widths helped create the typeface’s weights. “I wanted to draw sans-serif letters with similar horizontal and vertical strokes,” says Katyi. “I held the brush and the pen only vertically and only horizontally. A rounded shape is built up by two forms: a neoclassical construction (vertical axis) and a reversed contrast shape. These two create a mono-linear letter.”
Moholy-Nagy’s Constructivist-leaning approach is reflected in the way Mohol’s letters are built up from basic shapes. The regular lowercase “n,” for instance, fits into an optical square, and the counter of the rounded shapes is a neat circle.
Laslo, by Hungarumlaut
Another font here from Hungarumlaut, again inspired by László Moholy-Nagy. Hungarumlaut founder Adam Katyi created Laslo after one of his many visits to the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin. The designer says he “fell in love” with a Tapetenmusterbuch (facing paper specimen) from the early 1930s—specifically, with a letter “a” he saw on its cover. “From this letter I created the whole alphabet (usually I start with “n” and “p” characters),” Katyi explains. “The letters are clean, but they have a small unusual feature: The counter shapes of the rounded letters (b, d, g, p, q) have a small vertical straight part, which is large enough to be visible in bigger point size, but small enough to create a rounded form in smaller sizes.”
He adds: “All the letters reflect the heritage of the Bauhaus; they are clean and concrete. I made all the characters as functional as possible.” Laslo was released on July 20, 2018, which would have been Moholy-Nagy’s 123rd birthday.
Nobel revival, by Tobias Frere-Jones
An oldie and very much a goodie, Nobel was originally released in 1929, three years after Futura, designed by Sjoerd Henrik de Roos and Dick Dooijes. Almost 70 years later, Tobias Frere-Jones designed a revival of the geometric sans-serif typeface for Font Bureau, describing it as “Futura cooked in dirty pots and pans.” The font has six weights, with the Extra Lights added by Cyrus Highsmith and Dyana Weissman. “Nobel offers personal variations on strict Bauhaus geometry,” says Font Bureau.
Pareto, by Dinamo
Created by the ever-brilliant Swiss type foundry Dinamo, Pareto references Bauhaus typographic geometry with three possible serif arrangements— either a circle, a square, or a triangle. The studio mysteriously describes it as a font that “time travels” from “Italo Western into Computed Type.” Dinamo worked with longtime collaborator Gustavo Ferreira to create a system that ensures no shape will ever repeat itself twice, as each additional character looks back at its neighbor.