Initially released for proprietary photosetting systems in 1980, Haas Unica™ was the work of designers André Gürtler, Christian Mengelt, and Erich Gschwind, known collectively at the time as Team ’77 at Haas Type Foundry in Münchenstein, Switzerland. As the name suggests, Unica’s purpose was to combine the best of the two preeminent Swiss typefaces, Adrian Frutiger’s Univers®, a design Haas acquired along with the rest of Deberny & Peignot’s holdings in 1972, and its own Helvetica®, designed at Haas by Max Miedinger in 1957.
While the marriage of the two designs was indeed successful, the timing could have been better. In California, John Warnock was working on a page description language he called PostScript, which in 1985 shipped with the first Apple LaserWriter. Desktop publishing would supplant phototype before the end of the decade, taking Haas Unica with it into a prolonged period of obscurity.
The first taste of Toshi Omagari’s Neue Haas Unica™ came in May of 2014 as a single Ultra Light style appeared on Linotype’s website, to little fanfare. We at FontShop are pleased to now welcome the rest of it, and remark how well it captures a difficult to describe quality in type; that of familiarity and freshness in one. Helvetica’s alternatives are many, but we see this one becoming a strong contender.
The nine-weight Neue Haas Unica™ family ranges from ultra light to extra black, each with a complementary italic. Along with the basics, Eastern European languages come fully supported in the Latin Extended package, and the Pan-European package covers those (previously stated), plus Greek and Cyrillic. Its potential applications easily include branding, editorial, publishing, and packaging.