Modernist house numbers

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texasdago
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Modernist house numbers

Postby texasdago » Fri Apr 08, 2005 4:55 pm

My wife and I went to Great Indoors earlier today... while walking past the knobs/pulls, we saw a mix of different house numbers. We were really surprised when we came across these numbers - very very similar to what we've seen on a few of the other MCM houses in our neighborhood.

The packaging on ours says "modernist" even these say "Avalon"

http://www.atlashomewares.com/avhonu.html

another fun design is "metropolitan".

http://www.atlashomewares.com/methousnum.html

Best of all, they were less than $9.00 each!

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Re: Modernist house numbers

Postby tikiyaki » Fri Apr 08, 2005 5:02 pm


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Postby texasdago » Fri Apr 08, 2005 7:42 pm

If your store doesn't carry them, you can order them online or have another store ship them to you (we had to have the Arizone store ship the number 2 to our house)

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Postby tikiyaki » Fri Apr 08, 2005 9:47 pm


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Postby designmatters » Fri Apr 08, 2005 10:02 pm


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Postby modchick65 » Sat Apr 09, 2005 6:13 am

There's also an article on where to find modern house numbers in this month's Dwell.
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Postby SDR » Sat Apr 09, 2005 8:03 pm

I wish I could be more positive about the "Metropolitan" numerals; I'm sure there are properties where they would work well. They remind me of the sort of typography one saw in the magazines of the late fifties to mid sixties (?), for what that's worth -- they say "House Beautiful" kitchen ad; pink or turquoise, with black and white. At 2" x 6" they are probably reasonably legible from a distance (supposedly the reason for having house numbers attached to a building).

My problem is maybe that no such thing was seen when "our" houses were new; this is a new design, isn't it? So, in that sense, they cannot add to the authenticity of your presentation (if that's a goal).

The "Avalon" numerals, on the other hand, are a rare find. While the set as a whole is an excellent modern face, akin to Futura, the "3", "4" and "5" represent a style that dates from the mid twenties through the late thirties only, and echo some of the architectural lettering found on office drawings of that period -- a stylized, jazz age version of late Arts & Crafts typography? They don't belong everywhere; neither Neutra nor any of the Case Study architects nor the Eichler architects would ever have used these three members of the typeface -- they're a little too arty -- and too early for the latter groups. But I'd put them on an early to mid-period Schindler; maybe "Avalon" refers to the (recently lost) Wolfe house (1928-31, surely the only building on Catalina Island to hold any interest for me!).

The remaining numbers are sufficiently "neutral" -- and correct for the whole period from 1920 on -- to work on any of "our" houses. I only hope the "8" and "9" are not really a little too small, as they appear to be on the page shown. . .

SDR (who thanks GOD for "editing". . .)
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Postby texasdago » Sun May 01, 2005 8:05 pm

Here they are... looking good...

Image

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Postby SDR » Sun May 01, 2005 8:16 pm

Hey -- all right! You got the stand-offs -- they make for cool shadows in raking light.

Well done -- I really wish more people knew about those. There is SO MUCH bad typography infesting the world these days, in my opinion.

Congrats -- SDR
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House Numbers

Postby Chrisgreen » Sun May 01, 2005 9:09 pm

As a graphic designer, I have to say I agree that the "Metropolitan" house numbers are very "retro today" looking, and nothing like what would have been used in the 1950s or 60s. I thought the Avalon numbers were too Art Deco looking, but the Houston installation looks better than I thought it would. Haven't figured out yet what to do in my case. From what I've seen so far, I like the Neutraface numbers the best, but they're pricey! Thanks for all the tips.

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Postby designmatters » Sun May 01, 2005 9:56 pm

Well,

The 'metropolitan' numbers have been installed at the complex, yet the contractor installed them wrong!!!

They were supposed to be offset vertically, simmilar to how they appear in the webpage ad, but the worker just screwed them in lined up with one another.

Well, he'll just have to do them again....

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Postby tikiyaki » Sun May 01, 2005 9:58 pm

I just put the Metropolitan numbers on my house and they look pretty good, if not a bit small. Authenticity or period correctness aren't really an issue with me because I don't own an Eichler, P and K, or Cliff May, just a no-name 1966 "Atomic Ranch" .
I'm more into the end result, which is...."do I like the way they look or not?" I don't mind the new "retro-ness" because I like the way they look.

Neutraface numbers are HORRIBLY overpriced in my opinion. More companies taking advantage of the fact that people who are into MCM will pay over-inflated prices because there are very few alternatives out there for us.

Plus, I have 5 digits in my address number, so that gets pricey in ANY typeface :-)
Then again, the Eichler numbers are the same price as the Metropolitan ones, I just chose the Metro ones, if nothing else, for the kitsch factor. They have an upbeat sense of humor to them...they're fun.

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Postby SDR » Sun May 01, 2005 10:11 pm

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Postby texasdago » Mon May 02, 2005 4:51 am


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Postby jenkinshouse » Mon May 02, 2005 5:55 pm

Here's my local elementary school. Does anyone know what this font is called (the words, not the numbers)?

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Postby SDR » Mon May 02, 2005 6:28 pm

Well, it's close to Futura Light -- but the "H", "N", and "U" are too narrow, and tha "A" crossbar is too low. My references are incomplete, I'm afraid.

A nice face of the type I was referring to, though. Too bad about the hideously mis-matched and diagonal (another no-no) numerals. . .


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Postby johnnyapollo » Mon May 02, 2005 6:28 pm

It looks to be a cross of Trebuchet (the "K" isn't quite right) and Century Gothic (the "A" "R" and "C" aren't the same). Futura Lt BT may be the closest (the "R" isn't quite the same). If I can find my typeface book I'll see if there are other possibilities.

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House numbers

Postby ValleyModern » Mon May 02, 2005 7:09 pm

A very wide selection of house numbers in many different fonts, materials and finishes can be found at:

www.buysignletters.com

In stainless steel, though, they are not cheap. They are more than what I paid for great looking numbers at "Details" in West Hollywood which also has fantastic knobs, pulls, etc.

503 N La Cienega Blvd (formerly next to Pacific Design Center)
West Hollywood, CA

Then there is Deco Brass on Ventura in Tarzana. It is not as fab as Details, but you can find good modern things there.
Last edited by ValleyModern on Mon May 02, 2005 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby SDR » Mon May 02, 2005 7:34 pm

Among the Aluminum Letters at buysignletters, "Ribbon," Deep Ribbon" and "Roffe" are good 30s-50s choices -- in fact the photo of the school above could be "Ribbon" -- though I don't care for the "B". . .


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Postby Joe » Mon May 02, 2005 7:59 pm

ribbon condensed is perfect!

timelessness is best. Mine are from a typeface designed in the mid-'50s. There are several font web sites out there that give you history about the typeface, who designed it, etc. I like to know those things. I am a design geek.

As for the type to begin this thread, Avalon is OK if it's raised and kerned out (design geek speak), but is more Moderne, than Modern. More appropriate for the 1930s. Metropolitan is just wrong. Form follow function. These babies would be difficult to read from the street.

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Postby jenkinshouse » Tue May 03, 2005 6:22 am

Ribbon it is, thanks for the tip and consider it sold. I was most interested in the roundness of the "0" because my numbers will have 2 of them. There is a very similar font that I loved and should have taken a picture of up in Huntsville, TX. That is the font that the prison system used. It's very similar and the "Ellis Unit" looks to have been built in the 50s.
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Postby SDR » Tue May 03, 2005 12:08 pm

Some of these "minimal," linear, light-weight, san-serif faces will have circular (as opposed to oval or race-track shaped) O's. (These can all be called "gothic" -- my dictionary says, "a type characterised by straight lines of even width [no 'thicks' and 'thins'], and lacking serifs or other extra strokes." In Engand [it says] gothic refers to 'black letter' typefaces) Futura Light, Ribbon, Kabel, and Roffe are designed with regular arcs (sections of a circle) rather than irregular curves; others deviate from strictly regular geometries only where that would produce an awkward or ungraceful form. Univers, and later (?) designs such as Helvetica Extra Light, Frutiger 45, Grotesque 215 and Folio Light have ovalized forms but are still rigorously geometrical.

I believe the face we are referring to as "Neutra" would be of the former kind, while the "Eichler" face -- with a somewhat fatter line -- may be of the latter. Does anyone know the names of either of those faces, exactly?

Microgramma and Optima are designs from the late sixties that saw a lot of good use in architectural signage from that period. Their use on fifties buildings (or earlier) would obviously be an anachronism. Indeed, a subtle but telling aspect of a building's appearance is the chronologically-correct use of lettering.

Kerning (letter-spacing) is a vital aspect of the effect that typography will have. Although modern "dsplay" typography (ie, titles and headlines) have on the whole been presented with "tight" spacing, there is a fine tradition of architectural lettering that calls for a more generous and dignified appearance, with a half or full "M" width (or more) appearing between each figure -- check out ancient Roman monuments, and Beaux Arts civic buildings in any American city or town, to see examples of this.

Kerning is a fine art, and its incorrect realization can damage or ruin the finished effect, no matter how fine the individual letterforms may be. As there is a very large number of possible combinations of letters, and each letter in the alphabet has its own peculiarities of visual density and "edge shape," it is a matter of careful discrimination to allow the right amount of space to appear between each pair of letters in a word, so that the whole line seems uniformly dense. (I like to think of it as a kind of "visual diplomacy.") Computer typography manages to accomplish this automatically, now, with fairly acceptable results -- but it is still up to those who arrange letters, for any purpose, to assure that the optimum results have been achieved.

The school signage above features a degree of kerning typical and appropriate for this type and period.

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Postby tikiyaki » Tue May 03, 2005 1:23 pm


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Postby SDR » Tue May 03, 2005 2:08 pm

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Postby tikiyaki » Tue May 03, 2005 2:26 pm

Right, the Eichlers are, what...$12 per numeral...roughly ?

As far as Neutra goes...wouldn't it be nice if there were more actual Neutra Houses for folks to buy? Of course, that might make them a little less "special" but they sure are cool houses.

The first one on the corner of Neutra Place in Silverlake, most visible from Silverlake Blvd, is my fave of that cluster of Neutra homes. Man, I LOVE that house.
Are there any Neutra owners posting here ?

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Postby SDR » Tue May 03, 2005 2:33 pm

Interestingly, there are several different Neutra numeral faces, offered by www.houseindustries.com (select "Neutraface") but shown only at another site, www.orangeitalic.com/fonts/neutra.shtml

One of the numeral fonts, rather than aligning top and bottom to a common "X height", is arranged in an older way, with ascenders and descenders: the 0, 1 and 2 are of a common height; the 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9 extend "below the line," while the 6 and 8 extend above the height of the others. This variant suggests the "romance" of the Avalon face mentioned previously, although those numerals are apparently not designed to exceed the X-height lines; the 0, 1 and 2 are the same height as the other numbers. The Avalon "3" has the angular top of the Neutraface figure, however. . .

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Postby SDR » Tue May 03, 2005 2:51 pm

Well, I am a proponent of "if you can't find it, build it." I can't see why one wouldn't want to replicate a favorite piece of architecture -- just as one buys a replica of an Eames chair, if that is what one wants. (All currently manufactured editions of classic pieces can be called "replicas," I believe.)

I imagine Dion Neutra would be happy to accomodate you, if he could? I'd be interested to hear the opinions of Dion, and any other architect, on this subject. . .

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