TWO, or Think Work Observe, are a design studio based in Udine, Italy. They create very modern and simple publication identities, and what is particularly intriguing about them is that they also design their identities’ accompanying fonts. We were curious about the process that actually goes into creating a typeface, a process that seems so intriguingly subtle and precise.
We decided to ask TWO about Futwora, a font that sounds like an adorable mispronunciation of Futura. There is nothing adorable about TWO’s modern update of the classic font though, and Futwora is sleek and stylish and simple, a unique version of the favoured functional typeface, containing small, subtle twists. Originally designed in accordance with the Bauhaus school of design almost 90 years ago and based on the circle, Utopian Futura was designed in line with the ideological intention of destroying the ornamentation, clutter and frivolity of the decorative past. We decided to talk to TWO about the process that goes into re-imagining such a classic font.
How did you begin the process of designing Futwora?
The first sketches of Futwora are from early 2010. We were exploring the possibilities of using custom fonts in our designs, so we started designing fonts only for our own projects. At the time we didn’t aim to produce retail typefaces.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea was to create a personal version of Futura with a contemporary approach, with stylistic sets and alternatives.
Was there a particular inspiration for the typeface?
Inspiration came after a lot of research. Of course Paul Renner’s work was a starting point, but when we were in the process of designing the typeface, we noticed that the use of geometric sans serif was quite extensive. Our design taste at the time was more in line with other designers and type designers.
What did you design Futwora for?
Our reason was to design a font for our own projects. We didn’t expect that in few years, designers from all over the world would start asking us about how to purchase the typeface. Little by little we realised Futwora could become a retail font. In 2012 we released the two weights, and today they are still available upon request on our website. What pushed us to design Futwora originally was a friend’s music project, for which we designed the identity and the packaging of the album.
Which element was particularly difficult or interesting to work on?
Rather than the single glyphs, it was the general relationship between them that was the hardest aspect of the design process. We paid a lot of attention to figures, and we now feel that the figures are one of the strongest parts of Futwora.
How did you decide on the particular shaping?
When you work with a geometric shape, a lot of the decisions come from the shape itself. We focused our attention on other details, like punctuation and symbols.
Can you tell me a bit about the design process?
Usually it comes from looking for something that you can’t find somewhere else. Sometimes inspiration comes from our work on graphic design projects, like finding some interesting shapes that can be turned into alphabets. A historical approach is always the very starting point of our design process. If we don’t want to directly relate to some reference, there is always an evaluation of context and history. As a studio, we spend most of our time on our clients, so our type design process can take a while. In some ways it helps: that’s to say, working without a deadline puts less pressure on you, and time is always the best judge. To be honest, we wish we could spend more time designing fonts.
What plans do you have for the future?
After realizing that our typefaces grabbed the attention of other designers we thought it would be good to take on a new challenge. Designing retail fonts improves our design process, so we want to work more on type design. Currently we’re working on two different projects: a redesign of Gill Sans and a revisited version of an old German sans serif, and we’ve been sharing our ideas and opinions with other designers around Europe. In September we’ll be giving a lecture about our work in Venice during a full week course on typography, promoted by friends of ours. It’s going to be a busy summer!