For Akira Kobayashi, type director at Monotype GmbH, the DIN Next™ Slab design is a natural addition to the DIN Next family. “The condensed, rounded and language extensions to DIN Next had been obvious accompaniments,” he says. “After these, I looked at the family and thought, ‘The open letterforms and no-nonsense shapes would lend themselves to the addition of strong slab serifs.’”
DIN is the original “industrial strength” sans, dating back to the early 20th century. Its name is an acronym for the German Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization). The typeface was first used to identify railroad cars. DIN became the standard choice for highway signage, house numbers and engineering applications, but it did not gain popularity with graphic designers until the late 1980s.
Kobayashi gave this venerable sans new life in the form of the DIN Next family, completed in 2009. His specific objective was to improve the DIN family and make it more useful to graphic designers. “I knew that DIN Next had to be more ordered and flexible, have more weight variations, and include OpenType features.”
The new DIN Next Slab design provides graphic communicators with a welcome addition to the DIN Next family. The Slab versions complement the original sans serif and extend its range of applications. The light and medium weights perform remarkably well in continuous text, while the heavier designs are commanding at large sizes with no decrease in character legibility.
The DIN Next Slab family is the result of a collaboration between Kobayashi, as the design director, and freelance designers Sandra Winter and Tom Grace, who did much of the heavy lifting. Winter and Grace have worked previously with Kobayashi, who comments, “Part of Sandra and Tom’s competence is that, with very little direction, they produce excellent results.”
Winter is a German typeface designer and graphic artist. After training in advertising, she studied communication design in Darmstadt. She received her Masters Degree in Typeface Design at the University of Reading in 2006. Since then, she has worked as a freelance designer, and is currently based in Frankfurt Germany, where she divides her time between designing typefaces and designing with typefaces.
A native of Boston, Tom Grace completed his undergraduate degree in health sciences and gained practical experience in information technology. His appreciation for type, logotypes, lettering and typography, however, developed through his work and training in visual design at the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Reading, where he graduated with distinction with a Master of Arts degree in typeface design.
The characters in the DIN Next Slab designs echo the underlying shapes, proportions and industrial precision of the DIN Next family. Character shapes remain simple and counters open, ensuring high levels of legibility. The fonts also contain OpenType® features that can replace the default characters with special “legibility” designs, such as the 7 with a crossbar and zero with a slash. Its simple forms and square, slab serifs also ensure legibility in a variety of on-screen environments.
There is something inherently solid and reliable-looking about this style of type. The DIN Next Slab design is exceptionally robust and conveys a sense of straightforward honesty when set in text composition. It’s also a strong, adaptable display face for headlines, subheads and on-screen applications.
With seven weights, each with a complementary italic design, the DIN Next Slab typefaces are versatile designs in their own right. When used in conjunction with the DIN Next Regular, Condensed and Rounded designs, the new suite of designs significantly expands the family’s suitability for diverse projects in any environment.
The DIN Next Slab typeface family is available as a suite of OpenType Pro and Web fonts, allowing users to take advantage of OpenType’s capabilities, including automatic insertion of the full range of additional glyphs Ford has designed. The DIN Next Slab fonts also offers an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.