February 16, 2011
In this issue
In the News: MoMA acquires 23 typefaces for its collection
Awards: Erik Spiekermann honored for lifetime achievement
Recently in the Blog: Museo Italics, Kafka books featuring FF Mister K
Work at FontShop: Open positions at the San Francisco office

The Museum of Modern Art in New York announced January 24 that it acquired 23 digital typefaces for its Architecture and Design Collection. The typefaces exemplify the exclusive, the vernacular, and all points in between. The collection is a virtual anthology of technical innovation in 20th-century printing and graphic design. Highlights include FF Meta, a versatile classic by Erik Spiekermann; the lovably blunt OCR-A we see daily on barcodes; and Template Gothic, marked by the assertively comfortable imperfection of its genesis, a neighborhood laundromat sign.

Although the museum has a rich collection of elegant, innovative printed typographic works, its only typeface until now was the 36-point Helvetica Bold lead type, designed by Max Miedinger in 1956. The newly acquired fonts are all digital or designed with the digital revolution in mind.

From MoMA.org:

Helped by a panel of expert advisors that included graphic design critics, designers, and historians, we based our decisions on the same criteria — ranging from aesthetics to historical relevancy, from functionality to social significance, from technological ingenuity to economy — that we use when evaluating objects. We paid particular attention to the synthesis of goals, means, and elegance that we always seek in modern design.

For a limited time, get 15% off the MoMA collection fonts featured below.

15% off sale

For a limited time, use promo code MOMA to get 15% off MoMA collection fonts at FontShop.com!

See all products included in the sale.

MoMA header source: Flickr

OCR-A by American Type Founders (1966)

As computers began to go mainstream in the 60s, so did computer problems. For example, how could a machine read text efficiently? Enter OCR-A, the first machine-readable typeface. Four decades later, OCR scanners no longer need a monospaced font, but purists, designers and the occasional bar-code printer still favor the now-charmingly-retro OCR-A.

Source: Flickr

Bell Centennial (1976-78) by Matthew Carter
Miller (1997) by Matthew Carter

Some typefaces are sublimely elegant responses to the problems of specific media. Bell Centennial and Miller each solve three at once. Both were designed to be printed legibly on newsprint, with cheap ink, and in small sizes.


Template Gothic by Barry Deck (1990)
Keedy Sans by Jeffery Keedy (1991)

As computer programs for type design became more sophisticated in the 1990s, some designers reacted against this new slickness by basing their typefaces on found type and the vernacular. Template Gothic and Keedy Sans are imperfect alphabets for an imperfect world.

Keedy Sans
Source: Emigre

Dead History by P. Scott Makela (1990)

Dead History signaled the end of an era. Mechanically produced fonts had gone the way of the personal cassette player. This bold, celebratory font epitomizes new attitudes and new avenues in digital design, marked by the hybrid typefaces made possible by the emerging personal computer.

  Dead History

FF Beowolf by Erik van Blokland and Just van Rossum (1990)
FF Blur by Neville Brody (1992)

Some designers were bent on pushing the limits of visual communication one character at a time. The intentionally out-of-focus letters of Blur and the randomized outlines of Beowolf define the postmodern in type design.

FF Blur

FF Meta by Erik Spiekermann (1984-1991)

Originally commissioned to replace Helvetica for the Deutsche Bundespost, FF Meta is a milestone in legibility and contemporary sans serif design. The Bundespost never did implement the new typeface, but the rest of the world did. It went on to become the most influential sans of the 90s.

  FF Meta

Interstate by Tobias Frere-Jones (1993-95)
FF DIN by Albert-Jan Pool (1995)

Do these direct, authoritative alphabets seem strangely familiar? DIN is an acronym for Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardisation), and Interstate is based on the American Federal Highway Administration typeface, Highway Gothic. The characters of these eminently handy fonts are lifted straight from their original contexts. You’ll recognize Interstate from American road signs, and FF DIN — used on streets, in stations, and by businesses — permeates the entire German visual culture.

Erik honored
Erik honored
award logo

Prof. Dr. h.c. Erik Spiekermann Wins Personality Award At German Design Awards 2011

Friday February 11, in Frankfurt/Main, the German Design Council (Rat für Formgebung) presented the Personality Award 2011 to Erik Spiekermann — co-founder of FontShop and FontFont, and mentor of The FontFeed. Known as the “Prize of Prizes”, the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany (Designpreis Deutschland) is the country’s highest distinction in the field of design. The reason: no other design award sets such strict criteria on entries.

FF Unit in use
An example of Erik Spiekermann’s FF Unit in use.

The laudatory speech was given by John L. Walters, publisher of Eye, the renowned British “International review of graphic design” with a focus on typography. This underlines one of the main reasons for this recognition — the typographic œuvre of the founder of MetaDesign and EdenSpiekermann. His type designs ITC Officina, FF Meta, FF Info, FF Unit, Axel... as well as his exclusive corporate typefaces for the Deutsche Bahn (designed with Christian Schwartz, Gold Medal at the German Federal Design Prize in 2006), Nokia, Bosch,... are used world-wide. This is also emphasized by Johannes Erler, Board Member of Factor Design AG, Hamburg, in his excellent contribution The communication powerhouse, written for the German Design Council, organiser of the Award.

Read the full article by Jürgen Siebert at The FontFeed »

Photo at top: Andrej Kupetz, General Manager of the German Design Council, presents the Personality Award 2011 to Erik Spiekermann.

Recently in the blog

Now at FontShop: Museo Italics

The wildly popular typeface Museo by exljbris recently welcomed a new member to its family: Museo Italics. (See the entire Museo set.) Now the other upright members of the family, Museo Sans and Museo Slab, aren't the only ones with italic brothers. Sibling rivalry averted. Phew!

  Museo italics

Upcoming book jackets featuring FF Mister K

Peter Mendelsund has designed a gorgeous new set of book jackets for the works of Franz Kafka. Scheduled to begin their release cycle in June or July through Alfred A. Knopf, the minimal and striking jackets feature three consistent components: the eye motif, bright color, and the type.

Mendelsund made great use of FF Mister K by Julia Sysmäläinen, a design based on the handwritten manuscripts of Kafka.

  FF Mister K
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Photo: Vintage sign outside the FontShop office (Source: Flickr)
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