1994, San Francisco: Albert-Jan Pool and Erik Spiekermann took a cab together from the ATypI conference to the airport. Spiekermann knew that Pool’s employer had just gone bust, so he told him that if he wanted to earn some money with type design, he should have a look at fonts such as OCR and DIN. He invited Pool to Berlin to discuss the idea in detail.
One year later, FontFont published Pool’s FF OCR-F typeface, followed by FF DIN.
Spiekermann was keenly aware of an empty space in the market. Digital DIN fonts were available at that time, but only in two weights of purely geometric shapes. Pool designed a family of five weights. He added true italics and also some alternative characters, such as the “i” with a round dot and lowercase figures.
With time, five weights of FF DIN Condensed were added, as well as Greek and Cyrillic versions.
The shape of the new FF DIN differs from the original mostly by thinner horizontal strokes and by more fluent curves. Despite its primitive, technical look and the clear reference to the German motorway signboards, FF DIN became a phenomenon. The typeface has pervaded corporate and publication typography, and found its place in posters of cultural institutions.
In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art in New York added the first digital typefaces to its permanent collection. Perhaps due in part to the immense popularity enjoyed by FF DIN since its release in the mid-1990s, it was one of just 23 designs to be included. FF DIN debuted at MoMA as part of the “Standard Deviations” installation in the contemporary design gallery.
FF DIN supports 167 different languages such as Spanish, English, Portuguese, Russian, German, French and Greek in Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek scripts. (Please note that not all languages are available for all formats.)