Typeface Review

FF Meta Serif

Reviewed by Aegir Hallmundur on March 4, 2008

For years, FF Meta has been a favourite in the corporate world — solid, clean, reliable, and yet still modern and lively, perfect for everything from annual reports to point-of-sale.

However, it always did need a serif complement, something with the same color and characteristics. I’ve often used Concorde with it (Erik Spiekermann has also suggested Minion, FF Clifford, and Swift) but now the true companion face exists, designed over three years by Spiekermann with Christian Schwartz and Kris Sowersby.

Meta Serif is far more than a Meta-with-serifs, it’s an entirely new face that carries all the characteristics of Meta; solid, clean and modern, but offering a new expressiveness and verve, a sense of pace and energy. The face is flexible too. As body type, Meta Serif appears as an especially readable book face, the curvy refinements of those lovely hybrid terminals only becoming apparent at display and headline sizes.

The italics are more of a departure from Meta. Where Meta’s italics provided a restrained, almost imperative tone, Meta Serif’s are warm, welcoming and homey. I would even go so far as to describe the Black Italic as being sign-painterly.

Meta Serif is going to be a huge hit with designers of magazines, reference books, and corporate identities, either combined with Meta or on its own. Now, if we can just persuade Spiekermann to include support for Cyrillic and Greek, its status as a pan-European brand face will be assured.

Aegir Hallmundur is a designer and illustrator living and working in the south west of Wales. He is responsible for The Ministry of Type, a website mainly about type and sometimes calligraphy, illustration, architecture and photography, which he claims to one day start writing for again.

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