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Stag Sans Round
FF Meta Headline
FF Meta Serif
FF Unit Slab
Neutraface No. 2
Neue Haas Grotesk
2007. Designed with Kris Sowersby and Erik Spiekermann. Available from FontFont.
FF Meta Serif is one of the more challenging projects I've worked on. Erik Spiekermann's original FF Meta is one of the most ubiquitous (and recognizable) sans serifs of the past 20 years, and has already been in and out of style a couple of times. We knew its seriffed sibling needed to be more than just Meta with slab serifs slapped onto it - it needed to be 100% compatible with the sans, but still able to stand on its own as a legitimate text typeface.
The curved and diagonal terminals in the original FF Meta encouraged me to try some bracketing on the serifs, with oblique head serifs. The overall proportions are slightly wider than in the sans, but are still comparatively narrow for a serif face. The slightly increased contrast makes the face a bit more active on the page, and allowed us to match the weights of the original all the way up to Black without getting ugly and doughy. One of the most difficult things to figure out was the ball terminals on characters like 'a' 'c' and 's'. We tried nearly 10 different forms before settling on this hybrid rectangular/curved form, most often seen in faces for use on screen or for faxing (a nod to FF Meta's agate roots) which was subtly distinctive in a headline but not distracting in text.
Kris Sowersby, a young type designer in Wellington, New Zealand, was an integral part of this project, doing much of the actual drawing while Erik and I sent sometimes detailed, often cryptic notes to him from New York and Berlin. However, Kris was much more than a spare pair of hands - I got up one morning intending to sketch out a few characters in the Black for him, only to find he'd already drawn the whole thing.
In the end, I think FF Meta Serif has only a passing resemblance to FF Meta, but when you set a headline or a block of text, it somehow looks just like it.
Book, Medium, Bold, and Black weights, all with italics, small caps, and italic small caps.
All styles include lining and oldstyle figures in proportional and tabular widths, fractions, superscript and subscript figures, ligatures, and case-specific punctuation; Pro versions include an extensive additional set of accented characters.