Neutraface has The Guardian’s attention

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The gentrification font: how a sleek typeface became a neighborhood omen

As it happens, years ago I recommended the Neutraface house numbers from DWR to a friend who had bought and restored a mid-century house in a north Atlanta neighborhood, and it has probably tripled in value since then.

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  • Mark Simonson
    Mark Simonson Posts: 1,686
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    It’s inevitable that some fonts get “typecast” for certain kinds of uses. Sometimes, like with Neutraface, it’s not surprising. The font was actually based on metal architectural letters used by Richard Neutra, but expanded into a range of weights with lowercase and italic. When House Industries first released Neutraface in 1997, they offered stainless steel architectural letters and numbers in the style as part of the release. And now they seem to have taken on a life of their own, and several manufacturers seem to have licensed the design since then. 
  • James Puckett
    James Puckett Posts: 1,979
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    I wonder if the HOA will let me take down the stock numbers and put up my own.
  • Christopher Slye
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    Ugh, this article.

    “It must be noted that not every example of “gentrification font” is actually Neutraface.”

    “‘And if there’s anything that says ‘gentrification’, it’s an Apple product.’”

    “Still, the pervasiveness of these house numbers may or may not actually indicate that gentrification – or perhaps more specifically, displacement – is happening in a specific block or building.”

  • John Butler
    John Butler Posts: 270
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    Heh, yeah, that’s The Guardian for you. Class warfare lurking in every font.*

    *class kerning does indeed lurk in many fonts
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,168
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    The article is pointedly about a socio-economic phenomenon, gentrification, but the author has failed to follow the money—to House’s productization of their design (noted by Mark).  
  • Scott-Martin Kosofsky
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    Here’s a less gentrified way of placing better numbers on your house or mailbox. Set the figures in any font and size you wish, make a PDF, and have vinyl letters made at lettering.com. They can be mounted on nearly any surface. Here’s a picture of my mailbox. Know the font?

  • Chris Lozos
    Chris Lozos Posts: 1,458
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    About 20 years ago, I purchased the stainless steel Neutra figures for my house number. Still there for when the Postman knocks twice.
  • John Butler
    John Butler Posts: 270
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    @Scott-Martin Kosofsky—That looks like Mantinia to me. Gorgeous choice!
  • Scott-Martin Kosofsky
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    Correct—and thanks! Before moving to New York's Hudson Valley, I lived in a Modernist house in Massachusetts. There I had stainless Neutra figures from DWR. I'm much happier seeing Mantinia each day. Getting less junk mail now  . . .
  • Thomas Phinney
    Thomas Phinney Posts: 2,800
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    Although one rather suspects other factors at play, I love the idea that mailbox font choice could ward off junk mail!

    Typomancy! I am sure there is a totally viable basis for a book or TV series here....  😝
  • Christopher Slye
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    For our midcentury house with a midcentury mailbox, I really didn’t want to choose any of the usual typefaces, so I picked Gimlet. (This was a custom transfer sticker I created and ordered from Sticker Mule, which worked great.)


  • Stephen Coles
    Stephen Coles Posts: 1,001
    edited July 2023
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    Our house numbers are about as far stylistically from Neutraface as possible (but have their origins just about 20 years later).