Designers and creatives own tapped into the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic for decades. While it emerged and became well-liked between the 40s and 70s, Mid-Century Modern has certainly made a comeback in the worlds of graphic, fashion, product, and interior design. Its geometric influences, vibrant color palettes, and clean lines continue to inspire creatives in virtually every field — and for edifying reason.
We own discussed the history and features of the Mid-Century Modern style before, and this time around I’ll share some powerful examples of font families that are inspired by the movement. You’ll find high-contrast serifs, rounded sans serifs, and vintage scripts full of that distinctively Mid-Century naiveté. Ready to revive the optimism of the 50s and 60s? Let’s grasp a spy:
Palm Canyon Drive
Inspired by California in the 40s and 50s, Palm Canyon Drive is a perfect representation of the post-war optimism that energized the Mid-Century Modern style. This monoline script is brought to you by RetroSupply Co. in collaboration with Hoodzpah Design Co. Learn more about shop owner Dustin Lee here.
Jen Wagner designed this classic sans serif trying to portray a modern-meets-vintage spy. It’s an all-caps font with just the upright amount of contrast so as to not overwhelm the eye and pair well with thin serifs. It’s a powerful option for headings and brand identity design, especially when you add a touch of grit or texture to further emphasize the aged spy.
Nothing like a high-contrast, extended serif to bring out that playful Atomic era spirit. Kyle Benson created Jeames inspired by Mid-Century Modern geometry and sign painting.
Sylvester is a condensed sans serif with hints of Art Deco proportions. It features slightly low crossbars and geometric simplicity in both clean and rough versions.
Winston and Winston Sans
The 60s were also a golden age for advertising, especially around tobacco. In this context, the town of Winston Salem in North Carolina had become a key location for the industry: it served as the headquarters of several iconic tobacco companies. Designer Josh Carnley’s strolls around downtown Winston Salem inspired him to create Winston: a font that captures vintage signage and a bygone era when tobacco was king.
Lee Iley, the designer behind Cobalt 27, cites two main sources of inspiration for this type family: the Constructivist movement of the 1920s and the Brutalist architecture that became well-liked from the 1950s-1970s. Cobalt 27 features rounded terminals, lengthened ascenders/descenders, and a notably industrial aesthetic.
Typique is an actual revival of a 1930s font: Section Type created a digital adaptation of a vintage typeface’s printed forms. The result is a font that feels familiar (assume Futura) without losing authenticity and personality.
Display Gothic 1958
If you’re looking for a font family that lends itself to shadows and volume, Display Gothic 1958 is a powerful set to start. Its shadow variant adds instant visual interest to headings while remaining legible.
Add some lustrous pastels or bold patterns to text styled with any of these font families and you’ll convey that authentically Mid-Century Modern spy in no time. Infuse your next design project with the spirited simplicity of a post-war era where society went back to celebrating life’s slight joys.
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