Analyzing the typeface trends of gentrification

Over at The Guardian, Frida Garza has a delightful new piece examining the graphic design marketing aesthetics of gentrification. Which really just a fancy way of saying: why the fuck does every new luxury condo complex use Neutraface as its font of choice?

Neutraface – a typeface known for its clean lines and its legibility from a distance – has been dubbed the unofficial font of gentrification, according to eagle-eyed Twitter and Instagram users who have spotted the typeface (and others like it) on buildings around the country.


For many of these professionals and tastemakers, the minimalism of Neutraface – with its thin, pointy, attention-grabbing lines – adds whimsy and elegance to a building. At the same time, as Neutraface house numbers have become too commonplace to ignore, some now associate them (along with gray paint jobs) with neighborhoods overtaken by construction and renovations.

That association also lends itself to other dystopian connections: cheap fixer-upper jobs done on the fly, rent hikes and people being displaced from their longtime homes. Whatever the meanings people make of these house numbers, Neutraface now seems both indivisible from – and an indicator of – the constant changes of our nation's screwed-up housing market.

Garza looks into the history of the font's development, as well as the growing trend of using it for, ya know, those kinds of housing projects. For my part, Neutraface was one of the two official typefaces used in my first job out of college in 2008, which means the font has already gentrified a certain block in my mind anyway. So at least Garza's examination of the Neutraface trend makes me feel a little less lonely.

The gentrification font: how a sleek typeface became a neighborhood omen [Frida Garza / The Guardian]