In 1952, the Nebiolo foundry in Turin, Italy, released Microgramma, an unusual sans serif. A titling typeface (which thus had no lowercase), it was designed by Alessandro Butti (1893–1959), the foundry’s type director, with the assistance of Aldo Novarese (1920–95). Ten years later, Novarese revisited Microgramma. He created a lowercase, and reduced the size of the capitals to make them compatible. To the original five cuts (regular, bold, condensed, extended, and bold extended), he added bold condensed and compact variants, and thus Eurostile became part of the design landscape in the ’60s. Its distinctive television-screen shape reflected the technological optimism of the period.
Since then, Eurostile faded from view as other grotesques like Frutiger, Meta, and TheSans claimed attention. It seemed to be a relic of the ’60s (an association that Michael Bierut valued when using it for a recent monograph on the architect Eero Saarinen). But now Linotype Library has released Eurostile Next LT Pro, a redesigned OpenType version by Akira Kobayashi, in hopes of rekindling interest in Novarese’s most famous face.
Kobayashi has added two weights to the family (light and ultra light), available in three widths: condensed, regular, and extended. The relationship among Novarese’s weights has been rethought, and there are no italics or obliques. The new font has small caps and “old-style” figures (actually, reduced-size lining figures), and there is a biform (mixed-case) version.
These are the obvious changes to Eurostile, but under the hood, Kobayashi has tinkered with the design in more subtle ways. He has harmonized the weight of the capitals and lowercase, created compatible accents (which might explain why the font is about 10 percent smaller visually than its predecessor), and tweaked curves and counters throughout.
Maybe there is still enough optimism around to make us smile when we see those TV-screen-shaped letters again. Welcome back, Eurostile Next. PAUL SHAW
This article appears in the August 2008 issue.