The question is rather philosophical (or stupid).
From the history we’ve got a few classes of typefaces: Old Style, Transitional, Geometric, Gothic, etc. I think (and please correct me) that the latest “big class” is Neo-Grotesque, which was developed almost a century ago.
Are there any noticable anatomy features in contemporary design that could form a new class?
Obviously, contemporary design goes to extremes; we have cool technologies, variable fonts and superfamilies. But let’s discuss the anatomy of a modern letter specifically.
Such typefaces may not be the majority, but they are increasingly common. The recent thread I started on classifying Cambria is a good example—there must be four different categories at least that somebody suggested. http://typedrawers.com/discussion/2617/classifying-cambria
So the classification might start out unambiguous but after a few years fashions and styles have changed and so the classification becomes increasingly diverse until it has no real value any more.
The same thing has happened in Architecture where modern or contemporary architecture now covers a wide range of different styles. So much so that it has had to be sub divided so that there is now 'Mid Century Modern' which is different from present day 'Modern'.
It is an easy trap to fall into which is why I think all classifications such as this should be given a name not just called 'Modern' or 'Contemporary' because what is modern or contemporary is a moving target.
You asked a philosophical question, I gave you a philosophical answer !
Good example indeed! Are there any other typefaces with similar “problems”?
As a sample, here is Avant Guard compared to St. Ryde (with time I could find more text oriented examples)
I have a tough time keeping track, but I believe that Neo-Post-Après-Postmodèrne is the current term.
Maybe a real new callenge of the past 15…20 years was the task to harmonize different scripts (e.g. Latin, Greek, Cyrillic) into one typeface product.
I find it hard to think of any possible real groundbreaking innovation in the foreseeable future. Maybe its to late to re-invent the wheel (or the fork or the door-handle or the shoe …) I believe that sometimes there is an end to some inventions, from that point only further sophistication and minor variations are possible, but no more real useful innovations.
But I can also think of a development in which the widely used ideographs and pictographs, which serve all audiences world-wide in a language-independant way, become more influential.
It should be kept in mind that all of these terms—old style, transitional, modern, etc.—were invented long after the fact. John Baskerville had no idea that he was “transitional,” only that he was making types that suited his taste and the spirit of his moment. If he had absorbed an influence, it was the lettering styles of the engravers, notably John Pine, who, between 1733 and 1737, produced a two-volume set of Horace’s works that was entirely engraved. It was a sensation in its day. Engraving is a medium that lends itself to clear differences of thin and thick strokes—and all the steps in between. The Fourniers, on the other hand, were influenced by the Romain du Roi.
The term “transitional” implies that all this was just stepping stone to the “Modern” style of Bodoni and Didot. That’s nonsense. If the term transitional includes types made between the 1740s/1750s (Fournier and Baskerville) and includes Fleischmann, Rosart, Moore, Miller, and Wilson, we get all the way to 1839. A “transition” that lasts nearly a century is no transition, it is a style all its own. And for reasons stated above, the use of "Modern" is a confusing mess.
Another name for the later style of Bodoni and the Didots is “Neoclassical,” which makes more sense than “Modern” insofar as it places these types in the broader context of art and cultural history. If you look at it that way (I do), then you would find cause to classify everything from Pine through the Scotch romans as Neoclassical. That the British and Lowlands styles, in contrast to the Didoni style, tends to keep its bracketed serifs could be seen as a national preference, subsets of the Neoclassical style. Neoclassical can be as large a tent as “oldstyle” and still be useful.
But what do you do with the slab serifs and early gothics? Did they stem from the same Neoclassical impulse? Perhaps to an extent, but I would suggest that they were, instead, types that responded to the expanding world of commerce, both national and international. If one needs a larger umbrella for them, perhaps the term “Commercial” would work well.
What’s my point? I think we’ve been burdened for too long by terminology that reflects 19th-century sensibilities and was never well conceived to begin with. We can do better.
I would think they are their own category, so no.
I think they are just Geometric, aren’t they?