For decades, two different styles ruled the streets of divided Berlin. West Berlin street signs were made using a sans serif style that dated back to the 1930s, at least. Meanwhile, street signs in East Berlin made use of a narrow, router-based sans serif, which was probably developed during the 1950s.
After German reunification, it was unclear what would happen to these competing street sign styles. Two Berlin-based designers – Ole Schäfer and Verena Gerlach – took to the streets to document as many of the signs as they could, before anything might happen to them. Based on their documentation of the street signs themselves, rather than on the technical patterns from which the signs were actually made, Gerlach and Schäfer created the FF City Street Type series for FontFont.
The result of their work is three small families representing the “East” style, and two for the “West.” The final font character set needed to include many characters that would never be found on street signs, of course, so Gerlach and Schäfer designed all of these missing glyphs, punctuation marks, arrows, and other symbols themselves.
Now that Berlin has become the hip design capital of Europe, the eclecticism of these divided styles has thankfully stayed put, although more new street signs do seem to be made in the West Berlin style than the other way around. Designers across the united city and around the world have embraced the FontFont City Street Type series, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t, too! Not only are the FF City Street Types an excellent and powerful choice for use in wayfinding systems, they are uniquely-voiced branding and corporate design tools, too.
FF Cst Berlin East supports 63 different languages such as Spanish, English, Portuguese, German and French in Latin scripts. (Please note that not all languages are available for all formats.)