Neutraface has The Guardian’s attention

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.

Comments

  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,654
    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 PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,970
    I wonder if the HOA will let me take down the stock numbers and put up my own.
  • 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 ButlerJohn Butler Posts: 245
    Heh, yeah, that’s The Guardian for you. Class warfare lurking in every font.*

    *class kerning does indeed lurk in many fonts
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,145
    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).  
  • 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 LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    About 20 years ago, I purchased the stainless steel Neutra figures for my house number. Still there for when the Postman knocks twice.
  • John ButlerJohn Butler Posts: 245
    @Scott-Martin Kosofsky—That looks like Mantinia to me. Gorgeous choice!
  • 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 PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,748
    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....  😝
  • 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 ColesStephen Coles Posts: 996
    edited July 2023
    Our house numbers are about as far stylistically from Neutraface as possible (but have their origins just about 20 years later).



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