Fatype’s sans serif UCity Pro relates the struggles of the 1970s to the challenges of today
Swiss type foundry Fatype has released the geometric variable sans serif UCity Pro, a conceptual and thematic development on their U8 typeface, that further explores the notion of modernity – in contrast to U8’s examination of subway typography from 1920’s Berlin.
With the desire to complement the cities of today, UCity Pro replaces the simplicity and overt geometry of U8 with broken curves, cold character proportions and uncouth geometric architecture; taking initial inspiration from Lancia’s 1970 Stratos Zero concept car – a vehicle designed in the same year as Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase’s ITC Avant Garde, whose construction, influence and reputation also contributes to the literal and thematic construction of UCity Pro. The 1970s era itself also contributes to UCity Pro’s design. With the decade facing similar struggles to those we face now, the subsequent popular culture that reacted to those challenges, and the aesthetic decisions within them, place a significant role; be it Apollo 11, the Monolith from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 cinematic masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, or the zealous silhouette of the Concord which first flew in the same year.
Whether it is the harsh lines of the Stratos Zero and Concord, or perhaps the use of Gill Sans and Futura in 2001’s titles and credits, the influence of the period is obvious in UCity Pro’s dynamic construction – from its interrupted contours and sharp angles to its perpendicular, defined terminals. Distinctly modern, however, UCity Pro is built with variable technology; flush with 10 styles, OpenType features, weight and italic axes, Cyrillic support and, importantly, minimal data storage – in an effort to reduce the energy required to run it. With all this in mind, perhaps it may not be the solution to all the world’s problems, but UCity Pro does offer a remarkable tool for a designer to try their best.