FF Quadraat was one of the earliest typefaces to join the FontFont library. Like many designs that have been with us for decades, the story of FF Quadraat is a long and interesting one. Because of the success that FF Quaadrat has enjoyed since the very beginning, the design has organically grown into something of a super family. In 2011, the entire system was thoroughly revised to make the typefaces function more efficiently with each other, as well as to work even better on their own.
FF Quadraat began as a small serif family, designed by Fred Smeijers. Originally developed for the Dutch design company Quadraat (who since changed their name to “The Lab”), the initial FF Quadraat serif family combined Renaissance elegance with contemporary ideas on construction and shaping. The typeface was born out of careful research in form and function.
Upon the release as a modest four weight family in 1992, the confident and accomplished nature of FF Quadraat immediately established the then 31-year-old Fred Smeijers as a force to be reckoned with. Smeijers wanted FF Quadraat to be as economical as Times, but with less sparkle; as balanced as Plantin, but less static. The resulting typeface is a wonderfully effective text typeface, with unassuming yet highly original character shapes.
The first additions to Smeijers’s family were FF Quadraat Sans and FF Quadraat 2 (a new variant). While the concept of type families crossing classifications only caught on in the late 1980s, FF Quadraat Sans follows a trend from Smeijers’s fellow Dutchman, Jan van Krimpen. Earlier in the 20th century, van Krimpen’s Romulus design was one of the first examples of a classic serif typeface to be augmented with a sans serif variant. FF Quadraat Sans however is a striking design in its own right; a subtly stressed, lively humanist sans serif with strong gestural shapes. This efficient typeface is well suited for both display setting and longer texts.
Extra styles were subsequently added to the original serif variant of FF Quadraat and condensed faces to FF Quadraat Sans respectively. Simultaneously with FF Quadraat Sans Condensed came the Display versions—lively and spirited designs based on the serif bold italic and the sans condensed bold styles, reminiscent of the Dutch tradition of typographic/lettered book covers. FF Quadraat Headliner re-imagined the Condensed Sans by giving the letters a larger x-height. These titling faces have a strong and distinct personality, but aren’t of the loud-mouthed, fun-font variety. They strive for a sort of noticeability that has become quite rare. The final family extension before the 2011 revision was a Monospaced version for FF Quadraat Sans.
In 2011, almost two decades after the initial release, Fred Smeijers completely overhauled the Serif, Sans and Sans Condensed versions of FF Quadraat. After examining the original designs, many character shapes were carefully redesigned and fine-tuned. Three delicate Light weights were added to the Sans and Sans Condensed families and new Demi weights for all variants to bridge the gap between Regular and Bold. Black was added in 2012. Every single weight in Serif, Sans and Sans Condensed now has small caps and a Pro character set layout, which includes both Latin and Cyrillic Extended glyphs, adding support for about 100 languages. Finally, the descending tails of the K and R can now be found among the alternative glyphs.
FF Quadraat Sans Display supports 101 different languages such as Spanish, English, Portuguese, German and French in Latin scripts. (Please note that not all languages are available for all formats.)