In Praise of a Typeface: United

Posted by Alex

United by House Industries has been my go-to typeface over the last few semesters. It is a massive family — 105 total fonts (three styles, seven weights and five widths). This variety makes it an incredibly versatile collection. I really hate it when I find a typeface that I love, but find it missing a crucial weight or style. (DIN for example — would love to be able to wield more styles). United does not have this problem. I’ve used it on many projects (a few you know; ISO50 EP, Mega Cities book) and in each case the variety allowed it to be implemented in a unique and effective way.

I discovered it a long time ago while searching for the typeface used in a Nike ad (can’t recall which one, but it was amazing). I don’t actually remember if United was employed in the advert, but if you spend any amount of time searching around the typography of the sports world, you are bound to come across United at some point (Fox, I’m pretty sure, uses it for in game football graphics). There is an obvious resemblance of a few of the weights to a very collegiate look, which might be a turn off for some people, but the rest of the styles make up for this ten fold.

The most exciting part for me has always been the fact that each style has five different widths. I love condensed or extended widths and it’s nice to find a worthy competitor to the standards (Univers, Trade Gothic etc). When you need an extra touch of personality, especially if the project skews toward the technical or urban, United does the job nicely.

I don’t know many other designers (at least at school) that use it regularly and I thought I’d spread the word a little. Finding a new typeface is always pretty exciting, so hopefully if you haven’t tried United before, you can give it a shot and experience the sweetness. Anyone else have any hidden gems? I haven’t come across a new super typeface in a while — would love to hear about what people are unexpectedly enjoying these days.

24 Comments Leave A Comment


Jason Warth says:

September 28, 2009 at 2:02 am

House Industries is an amazing foundry. I use their Chalet typefaces a lot, for the same reason you like the United family (broad selection of compatible/complimentary weights and styles).


D says:

September 28, 2009 at 7:57 am

I am a huge fan of the Swiss 721 family. Clearly they’re a Helvetica spin-off, with the same clean taste and versatile talent of the Swede. Working in as the presentation graphics coordinator in an architecture firm, it comes in ridiculously handy! from dimension call outs, to big bold titles.


Erik Wallace says:

September 28, 2009 at 8:27 am

For awhile I really abused Interstate. It’s great at smaller sizes for buttons as well as headlines, good variation. I also am very fond of Helvetica Neue and Signpainter and have used them time and time again.


Rent says:

September 28, 2009 at 9:25 am

although I must admit, sometimes the YWFT fonts do leave me hangning a bit in not having those few weights and styles I need…


Dave says:

September 28, 2009 at 10:05 am

Thanks Erik – Interstate is a go-to for me as well. In fact, as much as it’s so common these days, the letter forms I like best in Gotham are probably because they remind me of Interstate! (All caps, at least)


alex says:

September 28, 2009 at 11:28 am

Dave – I agree about Knockout as well, amazing family. Ever since the NYT Magazine started using it for headlines, I have been experimenting with it as well. The only thing I don’t like is the titles — I can just never remember the difference between all that boxing terminology haha.

Erik – Interstate is a great one, and a free download if I recall, which is always nice. It’s amazing how different the pricing is across the board for font families. Either it’s free…or it costs $700.


Ramune says:

September 28, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for the tip, I will have to check it out. I have somewhat of an addiction to House Industries’ Neutraface. I just can’t let it go.


Robert says:

September 28, 2009 at 1:09 pm

I love House Industries as well. I often use Neutraface which I think is amazingly beautiful. I use all the classics as well but there’s something about this typeface called Miso that I just seem to love so much. Im not the biggest fan of rounded typefaces, and I know it’s not perfect, but Miso just seems to work.


J Bunting says:

September 28, 2009 at 4:39 pm

I’m a fan of United but I gotta say, I’m with Ramun here, kind of a Neutraface diehard also. I’ve been meaning to try out the Neutraface Slab face for something (along similar lines to some of the United faces) but haven’t had the occasion yet. Has that great structural quality that United has. Some of the Chalet family is really pretty too, but I haven’t used any of those for any real projects for a while.


e says:

September 28, 2009 at 10:12 pm

I attend the University of Delaware and I am extremely fortunate to have two members of House come teach a course twice a week. Let me just say from the few weeks I have met them and seen them teach, they have insane skills in typography and being able to teach it to others, and I am happy to see their recognition on my favorite Art blog.


Eric says:

August 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I know this post is like a year old, but I love this typeface, and SXSW is using it in their 2011 branding. Looks beautiful:

The extended weight reminds me alot of Helenic Wide, which I’v been meaning to get for a while, but don’t have the $$$ right now.

United is also the face we are using in a video game currently under development called Jam Party.