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Font of the Month: Neue Haas Unica

This month we take you from Moscow to Germany with Neue Haas Unica.

We all know Helvetica. Globally, it’s the most popular and recognisable typeface; it’s everywhere you look, even on your iPhone. Helvetica, the rational, legible and hugely popular typeface was designed in 1957, with advertisements, signs and headlines in mind. There’s a super fascinating documentary, which discusses the emergence of the font and the ideas behind it.

However, once Helvetica’s uses were needed beyond headlines and in smaller form, Haas, the centuries-old Swiss type foundry that had introduced Helvetica in 1957, commissioned a Swiss design team called Team’77 (André Gürtler, Christian Mengelt and Erich Gschwind) to come up with a follow-up to the world’s most popular typeface. Team ’77 set out to design a font based on Helvetica but drawing on other sans-serif typefaces, principally Univers- hence the hybrid name they ended up with. “Unica was designed to be different,” said André Gürtler; “sharper than Helvetica, warmer than Univers, cleaner than Akzidenz.”

Haas Unica was introduced in the 1980s and was clean and stylish.  Unfortunately, due to ownership disputes it was forgotten almost instantly.

However, thanks to Monotype designer Toshi Omagari, Haas Unica was discovered, re-drawn and is now available again as Neue Haas Uncia. Drawn to be legible at small sizes, it’s perfect for user interfaces and other on-screen text elements. Haas Uncia is fresh and meets the requirements of our digital age. Time to move over, Helvetica!

Kate Nic Dhomhnaill

Author Kate Nic Dhomhnaill

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