Future Font

Designed by Aldo Novarese and Alessandro Butti in 1952, the retro feel of Migrogramma Bold Extended’s ‘O’ takes designer Rian Hughes back in time.

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It's that extended, TV-shaped ‘O’ (the letterform that the rest of typeface is built from) that appeals to me. Microgramma is 1960s modernism personified, an optimistic tango-orange, nylon and smoked-glass tomorrow that never was.

Other features add to the feel of a futuristic machine: the ‘1’ has a long diagonal ‘tick’ that extends to the left on a short horizontal bar, which is echoed on the ‘N’ and ‘M’, and at the apex of the ‘A’. The lower case, technically renaming the font ‘Eurostyle’, is a later addition by Novarese in 1962. There are just two weights, a bold and a medium, which more closely resembles a light. I found it strange that there were no intermediate weights, outside of the later 1970s agency reinterpretations for photosetting. 

I first saw this typeface on the sides of the Shado Mobiles from Gerry Anderson's TV series UFO, and in the comics, annuals and related merchandise. It was studying these that first started me thinking about this thing that I later found out was called graphic design. No doubt helping its widespread adoption, Microgramma was available in Letraset, and I would label my schoolbooks, ring binders and cassette tapes with it.