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Sans Serif fonts do not all look alike. While transitional sans like Helvetica and Arial are sometimes called generic or anonymous, some Sans Serifs based on circles and triangles, are called geometric. The most famous geometric Sans Serif is probably Futura, designed in 1927 by Paul Renner. Futura is about as geometric as a font can get and still be usable in text. You can see the bowls are almost perfect circles while some letters are based on triangles and keep their sharp apex.
I mentioned in the previous chapter that after World War I, some designers rejected humanist forms because they represented the fallibility of man. Paul Renner was one of those designers. He believed in radically simplified forms. He preferred rationality and functionality. He disliked calligraphic forms. He believed geometric simplicity had a calming effect. It is perhaps ironic that Germany's defeat in World War I meant the fall of the German monarchy.
A temporary halt to censorship meant German artists like Renner could experiment. They could be influenced by constructivism which had an industrial angular style and geometric abstraction. But as much as Paul Renner disliked calligraphic forms and letters, the very open round bowls and the triangular forms undermine readability in Futura. The large circular bowls have spaces that are almost as large as the spaces between words. This creates large spaces in words like in the letter a in the word great.
The x-height is small and the ascenders and descenders are very long, which make the stems feel long. They draw the reader's eye down the page rather than horizontally along the lines of text. Thus, most geometric sans are not as geometric as Futura. Letters need to work together in a system, and if they're built upon an external idea like circles and triangles, the legibility and readability of the font can be compromised. So most contemporary geometric sans will just feel more geometric than other Sans Serif fonts because they have some geometric components.
For example, both Museo Sans and Muli have shorter stems. They have slightly wider apertures, they both have a spur on the u, and they both have a slight curve at the bottom of the t. In addition, Museo Sans has a humanist double-decker a. And finally, Museo's shoulders, the humps that meet the stem of the h and u have a slight shape to them suggesting a slight stress even though the letters are monoline. Museo Sans has humanist and geometric characteristics.
Muli feels more geometric. And Futura is the most geometric of all.
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