The Neutra Legacy

Architect Richard Neutra coined the term biorealism to describe what he considered to be the inherent and inseparable relationship between man and nature. With the institute for survival through design, he sought to bring these two into greater harmony. In fact, his many residential commissions, professional buildings, and housing estates ingeniously figure natural elements into their formation; water-covered rooftops become upper-level reflecting pools and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass walls transform static living spaces into scenic panoramas. These considerations, however, are not artificially introduced as to imitate nature, but rather as a means of connecting the inside to the outside world.

Born in Vienna April 8, 1892, Richard Joseph Neutra aspired to be an architect from an early age. A skilled draftsman in his youth, the ambitious Austrian began formally studying his craft in 1911. By 1923, Neutra had emigrated to the United States and later worked with his mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright. After collaborating with friend and partner Rudolph Schindler for several years, Richard Neutra established his own practice in Los Angeles in 1926. One of his earliest projects, the Lovell Health House, would also become one of the most representative icons of twentieth century modern architecture. Built between 1928 and 1929 for a wealthy Los Angeles Times naturopath and columnist, the residence's completely steel-framed structure was the first of its kind in the U.S. Neutra went on to complete many other notable projects, among them the inimitable Kaufmann house in Palm Springs (1946).

In 1954, Neutra made another contribution to architectural history with his book Survival Through Design. This philosophical treatise outlined his attitude toward the discipline: "Design to contribute to survival of the race is more than design as...a lubrication of bigger and better trade."

Neutra formally partnered with his son in 1965, establishing richard and dion neutra and associates. The firm developed many noteworthy projects, including Dion's Reunion House (1950) and the newly rebuilt vdl Research House (1966), both in the Silverlake community of Los Angeles. To this day, Dion Neutra continues his design practice and acts as Executive Consultant to the institute for survival through design.

The History of Neutraface

Although better known for his residential buildings, Richard Neutra's commercial projects nevertheless resonate the same holistic ecology-unity with the surrounding landscape and uncompromising functionalism. His attention to detail even extended to the selection of signage for his buildings. It is no wonder that Neutra specified lettering that was open and unobtrusive, the same characteristics which typified his progressive architecture. House Industries brings the same linear geometry to Neutraface without sacrificing an unmistakably warm and human feel.

House Industries began the inter-disciplinary task of adapting sign lettering to typography by consulting with Dion and closely studying the archives of acclaimed photographer Julius Shulman. With limited source imagery, Christian Schwartz composed an entire alphabet and added a complementary lowercase which previously did not exist. An alternate font was also developed by following certain letter forms which often varied from building to building. The final Neutraface Display family includes five weights in regular and alternate variations and a unique titling font.

The font family's architectural origins lent to its initial creation as a headline typeface. However, in the spirit of Richard Neutra's approach, a text version of Neutraface was conceived. Departing from the unusual proportions and stylized fashion of the display version, Neutraface Text features a larger x-height and increased contrast in its strokes for enhanced readability in lengthy passages. True to the International Style, Neutraface supports over two dozen languages including Central European writing systems.