The original Eurostile design was first drawn as a cap-only face by Alessandro Butti, with help from his assistant – a then quite young Aldo Novarese – for the Nebiolo type foundry. This all-cap, or titling, typeface was released in 1952 and called Microgramma. It was intended strictly for display composition. In fact, being a titling design in metal type meant much more than working only with caps. It meant that the capital letters filled the full point-body of the metal type. Thus, 72 point titling caps were much larger than 72 point caps from a regular font and could not be used with standard text fonts.
Microgramma was in use for the better part of ten years when a more mature Aldo Novarese decided to add the missing lowercase to the typeface. The completed design, renamed Eurostile, was released in 1962.
In the manner of Neue Helvetica and Frutiger Next, Linotype has taken the basic Eurostile design and created a remarkably fresh and improved version of the family. The new rendition is the work of Akira Kobayashi.
When Kobayashi began studying the Eurostile fonts to prepare for the project, he found several design flaws and inconsistencies in the photo type versions that were perpetuated in the succeeding digital interpretations of the design. The result was that the once elegant and stylish Eurostile had become downright frumpy – and sorely in need of a makeover.
Given what he saw in the digital and photo type interpretations, Kobayashi chose to base his work solely on specimens of the original metal fonts. As a result, his version, Eurostile® Next, is a softer design than graphic designers are familiar working with. As Kobayashi explains it, “The old Eurostile had rather awkward curves. It was poorly drawn, with too many straight lines. This was not Aldo Novarese's intention. The version I drew has fuller curves, which are faithful to the original design.”
The capitals were noticeably heavier than the lowercase in the original Eurostile, resulting in an uneven typographic color when more than a couple of words were set. Kobayashi adjusted the cap stroke weight so that the capital letters no longer dominate and now have a finely balanced relationship with the lowercase. Kobayashi also drew new diacriticals that complement the shapes and proportions of the Novarese design. In the process many new characters were drawn to support Central and Eastern European languages.
In addition, Kobayashi added new Light and Ultralight weights to complement the Extended, Normal, and Condensed variations within the family. He also drew small caps and a suite of small cap figures. Finally, Kobayashi added a set of unicase, or bi-form, alternate characters. These are lowercase letters drawn to cap heights and proportions.
Although now in its sixth decade, Eurostile – in the form of Eurostile Next – is as vibrant, fresh and elegant as when Butti and Novarese made their first pencil sketches for the design. And it is poised and ready for the decades to come.