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Officina

Officina

“Two things motivated me to propose a new typeface to the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) in 1988. One was that I had had enough of the sleek, ‘pretty’ fonts that all the manufacturers were releasing, and the other was that there was a need for a modern correspondence font for laser printers. ‘Great’, said ITC, ‘go ahead.’

My idea was to take the typewriter fonts Letter Gothic and Courier as models and to create something new from them. Letter Gothic would form the basis for the narrow sans-serif version, and Courier the wide Roman. I concentrated on the sans-serif, and my friend Gerard Unger offered to do the groundwork for a serif font.


Erik Spiekermann in 1990 with an early version of ITC Officina: bolder dots, discrete text figures (Photo: Hans Werner Holzwarth)

In my first sketches for ITC Correspondence (working title), I had one eye on Letter Gothic and the other on my post-office typeface (later FF Meta; ed.). Gerard Unger provided the serif test word ‘Hamburgefonts’, but then an important project came up for him. I also had to put the new font to one side. And all of a sudden it was the spring of 1989.

Just van Rossum came to my rescue when he started an internship at MetaDesign that May. He took my sans-serif, cleaned up the Ikarus data and created a really smart font family. Gerard was still busy with other things, so Just and I tried to create a slab-serif from it. It looked great. Towards the end of 1989, the font data went to URW, who added the rounded corners automatically.

When the proofs arrived from ITC in New York in the summer of 1990, I was annoyed to start with because my discrete text figures had been replaced by lining figures drawn by URW. And I can’t quite shake off the suspicion that somebody made our heavy dots lighter.”

Erik Spiekermann in PAGE 03/1991

Addendum: In the spring of 2003, in collaboration with Agfa and with Erik Spiekermann’s authorisation, FontShop released a complete ITC Officina package in line with the original intentions of its creator.
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adela am: 4. Oct 2012
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