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The typographic Times
[December 2006]
Fedra Sans
by Peter Bilak
Fedra Sans

History of a typeface

Fedra Sans was originally commissioned by Paris-based Ruedi Baur Integral Design and developed as a corporate font for Bayerische Rück, a German insurance company, as part of their new visual identity. According to the commissioner, the objective was to ‘de-protestantize Univers’, the typeface which Bayerische Rück had been using since Otl Aicher designed their first visual identity in the 1970s.

The typeface reflects the original brief: it humanises the communicated message and adds simple, informal elegance. The most important criterion was to create a typeface which would work equally well on paper and on the computer screen, and would be consistent across all computer platforms. The typeface attempts to reconcile two opposing design approaches: the rigidity of a typeface designed for the computer screen and the flexibility of handwriting.Fedra Sans
After first versions of the typeface were completed and digitised, the project was cancelled as Bayerische Rück was acquired by another even larger multinational corporation. This put an early end to the story of the custom font, but also freed the project to be further developed and independently published.

In brief

Fedra Sans is a multilingual contemporary sans serif typeface developed for visual identities, designed to work equally well on paper and on the computer screen. Fedra Sans appears to work exceptionally well in small point sizes, while it is elegant and distinguishable in larger ones. Also available in an alternate version with more subtle construction principles.

Fedra Sans DisplayFedra Sans Display
Instead of extrapolating lighter versions of Fedra Sans for display use, the the Fedra Sans Display family was specially designed. This allowed to change the spacing and kerning of the characters, based on the assumption that they would be used in larger sizes. Fedra Display was designed in collaboration with Dutch type designer Pieter van Rosmalen.

Fedra Sans Display

Fedra Mono

Fedra Mono was developed for an annual report that required a fixedwidth counterpart to Fedra Sans. All the letters in Fedra Mono share the same width, making the typeface suitable for tabular setting in layouts that benefit from the vertical alignment of characters.

Fedra Mono


Related articles: Peter Bilak interview (November 2006) & Fedra Serif portrait.

Typography fonts