Why Choose A Mid-century Font For Your Web Design Project?

Are you interested in creating a mid-century look and feel website? Do you like fast loading fonts like Arial, Courier and Times New Roman but feel they don’t really fit the mid-century style? In the past, a web designer could turn to TrueType or MonoType fonts but these fonts are slow loading. Bridge the gap between creative and fast loading by exploring the newest fonts added to the Google Fonts project [https://fonts.google.com/].

The Google Font project is “making the web more beautiful, fast, and open through great typography”. In the past, the project provided only a limited selection of fonts but now offers web designers over 915 fonts. Many of the newest additions are contemporary takes on classic mid-century font styles with the added value of leveraging server compression and caching to increase page speed.

Utilizing new technologies and smaller highly compress font files may initially cause web designers to worry capturing mid-century style is out of their reach. But there several new fonts that reflect mid-century style in the Google Font library. Designers creating a mid-century look and feel are already familiar with Robot Condensed and Open Sans. They are pairing them with some of the newest “handwriting” styles from Google Fonts like Parisienne, Sacramento, and Lobster to create the look of a mid-century luxury car advertisement. For a bolder, more “Jetsons” feel some are turning to high impact fonts like Prosto One, Rubik Mono One, Gruppo for titles on landing pages.

When designing a new website in a mid-century style start with font selection. Build your UI kit and add elements such as color and images once you have settled on a typeface. With so many new mid-century fonts available how do you choose the right one for your website design project? The vast public libraries of typefaces can feel overwhelming but if you understand the basics of mid-century design, selecting the correct font set becomes easier.

What Are Mid-Century Fonts

Mid-century fonts have similar unifying elements:

  • The appearance of functionality and utility

  • Serif and san-serif font sets alike sport minimalistic lines

  • Include botanical and geometric visual references

  • Originate from 1950s California and Japanese design influences

In pairs, mid-century fonts work best when juxtaposed with other contrasting fonts. Web designers often use font combinations, mixing serif with san-serif styles. But which fonts lend themselves to mid-century designs which are “high style” versus “every day”? Dive deeper into a mid-century design by familiarizing yourself with 5 key designers, artist, and architects which had a strong influence on graphic design and font development. The most notable designers who shaped mid-century style where, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Isamu Noguchi, and Alexander Girard.

Major Influencers on Mid-Century Font Design

Edward Wormley: Famous for exacting designs with minimal line. His expression of the line included layered curvilinear elements with a slightly round bullnose edge. His work could be found in many mid-class homes.

Eero Saarinen: Most noted for taking traditional neoclassic styles and adapting them to a clean futuristic statement. His looks where consider high style and most well know for cantilever edges that seem to flow into one another.

Harry Bertoia: Best known for modified, gentle, geometric shapes designed in mesh and wire. In Bertoia’s own words, “If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them.” Bertoia’s designs were very accessible to all levels of society.

Isamu Noguchi: Greatly inspired by traditional Japanese art. He was celebrated for simple soft biomorphic shapes with minimal ornamentation. His work was collected by the most affluent and culturally aware.

Alexander Girard: His minimalistic textiles reference Danish and Japanese folk art. Girard’s work married ornamentation and simplistic lines. His work evoked images of family life.


Consider your audience in selecting a font

If your website design targets blue-collar homeowners consider mid-century fonts commonly used in the advertising section of the Sunday newspaper during the 1950s. These fonts most commonly reference the styles of Edward Wormely and Harry Bertoia.

However, if you are targeting the top 10% income earners reference fonts used in Herman Miller advertisements may be more appropriate include font sets reflecting the sensibilities of Eero Saarinen and Isamu Noguchi.

If your website design is meant to appeal to women remodeling their kitchen consider fonts that referencing the style of Girard.

Once you have decided on your font sets then think about kerning, tracking and leading as it relates to device and readability. Many fonts seem to choose themselves when viewed on a mobile phone.

If selecting a mid-century font still feels overwhelming, it may be time to call an expert. Our web designers know most mid-century fonts by name and can assist you with the style that best fits your website. Our web designers are intimately familiar with many web font services ranging from Google Fonts to Adobe. They also have access to higher priced font kits that may contain less well-known fonts likely to make a unique statement.

If you have questions, connect with us today!