French typefaces tend to have strong personalities. You won’t find self-effacing, function-over-form designs like Helvetica or Century Schoolbook among them. Instead, French types are usually lively faces that add sparkle to a block of text copy or a display headline.
ITC Eras is no exception to the Gallic tradition. Designed through the collaboration of two French designers, Albert Boton and Albert Hollenstein, ITC Eras has charm, distinction, and a lively quality that’s rarely seen in sans serif typefaces. Its sweeping strokes and compound curves owe more to the heritage of broad-tipped brushes than the ruling pen.
Most sans serifs are optically monotone in weight, making them difficult to read in lengthy blocks of text copy. ITC Eras maintains optically even stroke weights like other sans serifs, but it overcomes the sans serif tendency to blandness through the dynamic tension created by the design’s 2-degree slant – almost, but not quite, italic. The design appears spontaneous, like a written script.
ITC Eras is not geometric or precisely structured in design; instead, its proportions reflect Roman types. That’s because ITC Eras actually began life as another typeface. In the late 1950s, Boton and Hollenstein collaborated on a type design that eventually became a face called Basilea. Basilea is a traditional Roman typestyle, with small serifs and the proportions of early epigraphic inscriptions. If the serifs are removed from Basilea, the resulting design looks very much like ITC Eras.
Some time after Basilea was released, Hollenstein saw the initial sketches for the design and encouraged Boton to develop the serifless version. The face was completed in the late 1960s and was used primarily as a display face for Studio Hollenstein, Albert Hollenstein’s phototypesetting and design company.
In the early 1970s, Aaron Burns, ITC’s founder (and later, president), saw Eras and was immediately taken with the face. He encouraged Boton and Hollenstein to enlarge the limited character complement and create additional weights for the design. The ITC Eras family was released in 1976.
If you need an eye-catching typeface that will create a look as well as deliver a readable message, ITC Eras is an excellent place to start. People notice this type. ITC Eras is easy to read in blocks of text copy, and can be an excellent choice for brochures, ads, posters, menus and package design. Because the caps in ITC Eras are patterned after Roman monumental letters, they also make excellent initials.
One of ITC’s earlier designs, ITC Eras has become a distinctive and useful classic.