News: Tagged as Mike Abbink

At Work & At Home With Mike Abbink

Mike Abbink is the designer of several internationally recognized typefaces, including most recently FF Kievit Slab and FF Milo Slab, FontFont (2013, 2014); and Brando, Bold Monday (2014). In 2014 Mike teamed up with designers Paul van der Laan and Pieter van Rosmalen of Bold Monday to create serif and sans additions to the GE corporate typeface family Inspira. Both Brando and the GE Inspira have recently won awards in the 61st Annual TDC Type Competition. Mike is also Senior Creative Director at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and has a broad typography background from personal, in-house, and design agency work including MetaDesign in San Francisco, Apple, Wolff Olins on two coasts, and Saffron Consultants. 

FontFont caught up with Mike at his home in Brooklyn. We toured his neighborhood, studio space, and dropped in to the city to see his office at MoMA.

At Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike Abbink

What have you been drawing lately and what projects are you in the middle of?

I can show you work that was just finished for the Henri Matisse exhibit that my design team worked on in the MoMA design studio. It’s a Futura inspired black weight with roman, italic and reverse italic. I designed it to work well with the bespoke typeface (Henry) created for the Matisse catalog and designed by the Fraser Muggeridge studio in London. We developed this identity to be used as the Matisse exhibition title wall and products in the MoMA Design Store. We also ended up redoing the street-facing store windows using the Matisse identity typeface. I’m also very pleased by the way our print advertising has turned out. One that stood out for me was a full page ad in the New York Times, showing a single artwork and just small caption set in 7 point type. No tag line, call to action, exhibition info, address… just the image of Matisse’s Nuit de Noël. I have not seen that approach with any museum adverts which was quite refreshing and bold.

I’ve also been working on Brando Sans and what will ultimately become FF Kievit Serif; right now we’re currently getting the weights within the family fine tuned so it mixes well together with the sans and slab versions. I’ve been working on FF Kievit my whole career with the goal of building a cohesive family which includes a sans, slab and serif. The Serif and Slab versions have been done in collaboration with Paul van der Laan.

At Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike Abbink

I see you’re working in Fontlab here; Is that your editor of choice at the moment?

Yeah. I’ve got RoboFont and I’m learning it, but all my current projects are in Fontlab and it’s the one I’m most comfortable in. When I’ve got some time, I like to learn in RoboFont, but if I’ve just got a couple of hours and want to jam I go with what I know. Erik Spiekermann has mentioned Glyphs to me recently so that is on my list to learn as well.

At Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike Abbink

Since you’ve lived and worked in both, how would you describe the difference in design culture between San Francisco and New York?

San Francisco is a great place to work as a designer, and it’s got connections to tech culture which is obviously pushing everything toward digital media and new ways of interacting with design and technology. But I’d say New York has a certain kind of gravitas that’s hard to beat based on the number of influential and legendary designers like Paul Rand, Milton Glaser, Vignelli, Chermayeff & Geismar, Paula Scher and Michael Beirut (just to name a few).

At Home With Mike Abbink

What’s the story behind FF Kievit? Where does it get its name? How do you say it?

It’s ‘key-veet.’ It’s a Dutch word. My parents are Dutch, and I spent summers visiting my relatives there in the Netherlands as a kid. FF Kievit was my first release. I started it when I was a student in Leah Hoffmitz’s digital font design class at Art Center in California. I was looking closely at designs like Frutiger that introduced humanist elements to a sans model and the skeletal structure of great oldstyle designs like Garamond. I wanted FF Kievit to land somewhere in the middle with the modernist flesh and the bone structure and proportions of a serif. I tried to make something with a natural personality, but that’s cooler in tone, not too expressive. The name Kievit is a Dutch name for a little bird that nests on the beaches there, it’s called a plover or Lapwing here in the states. There was a Dutch tradition to present the first found kievit egg of the year to the Queen, who took it and pronounced the official beginning of Spring. So in a small way, this first typeface is my little offering of something new. It also happens to be my mom’s maiden name so I’ve always had a connection to the name and the bird!

At Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike Abbink

It seems like nearly every independent type designer these days has his or her own foundry label. Is yours next?

Maybe in 4–5 years, but for now I like things as they are because I still like my career as a graphic designer as well. Collaborating with designers who operate their own successful foundries gives me an idea of how much work goes into the marketing and technical and business ends. I’d rather focus on design and continue to collaborate with FontFont and my friends Paul van der Laan and Pieter van Rosmalen at Bold Monday. We have a great relationship and have worked on multiple bespoke typeface projects together as well as some personal type development.

At Home With Mike AbbinkAt Home With Mike Abbink


The Unveiling of FF 68!

We are excited to introduce our final release of 2014! As usual it is jam-packed with typographic treats: From the revival of a hidden gem to new weights for a FontFont favorite to a slab serif sister for one of our most in-demand typefaces. And if this wasn’t enough, our newly updated Web FontFonts raise the bar for enhanced web typography again. 

FF Bauer GroteskNew Design: FF Bauer Grotesk

First off, we welcome FF Bauer Grotesk – the highly anticipated revival of the Friedrich-Bauer-Grotesk typeface – originally released in 1934 by the Hamburg-Altona-based foundry, J. D. Trennert & Sohn. Friedrich Bauer designed his Grotesk with a nod to famous German designs such as Futura, Erbar, Kabel and Super Grotesk; its geometric construction is infused with a touch of Art Deco. Fast forward eighty years to Thomas Ackermann and Felix Bonge’s warmer and more homogenous adaptation FF Bauer Grotesk. It is ideal for those looking for something with historical weight to use across editorial, packaging, publishing, and ephemera. 

 FF Milo Slab

New Design: FF Milo Slab

FF Milo Slab is the newest member of Mike Abbink’s FF Milo super family. Singularly distinct and yet reassuringly solid, the slab retains many similarities of its sans and serif counterparts,but has undergone a wide range of careful adjustments from increased contrast, longer ascenders and descenders and modified glyphs in the heavier weights. All of these changes amount to a typeface that feels like FF Milo but with an identity of its own. The result of several years development between FF Milo designer Mike Abbink and Jesse Vega, FF Milo Slab comes with similar features to its siblings including nine weights, small caps, old style, lining, and tabular figures as well as some alternative glyphs to mix it up.

A perfect workhorse typeface suitable for headlines, posters/banners, magazines and advertising. 

FF Utility


New Weights: FF Utility

A creative and contemporary sans serif, Lukas Schneider’s FF Utility has acquired Thin & Extra Light weights to its now seven weight roster. An extremely legible typeface, FF Utility sets a mean line of text and can be used for almost anything. Both new weights are perfect for anyone working with larger text such as headlines.


New Functionality: Web FontFonts with OpenType Layout Features

We are delighted to announce that as of today the majority of our Web FontFonts now include OpenType Layout Features. This means that you can spice up your web identity through the magic of ligatures, stylistic alternates, figure sets, fractions, small caps and even swashes (if available in the font). With these advanced typographic features,  specifically built for the web and supported by all desktop browsers (except Safari), OpenType gives you endless opportunities to bring online type to life. See them in action on our microsite and watch the video we created in collaboration with Stark Films.

What’s more, we’ve streamlined and improved our webfont formats and fully updated the free Subsetter tool so that you can customize your Web FontFonts for optimum performance.


FF Kievit Microsite

As part of our recent FF Kievit Slab release we have created this microsite along with a special print specimen to showcase the new typeface and the rest of the FF Kievit superfamily.

Explore and sample FF Kievit and FF Kievit Slab in full flight at

To see more, go to our Behance page.

FF Kievit Microsite

FF Kievit Microsite

FF Kievit Microsite - iPad

FF Kievit Microsite - iPad

FF Kievit Microsite - Mobile\FF Kievit Microsite - Mobile

FF Kievit Poster


New Release: FF 64

FF63 saw a FontFont milestone with the App+ license and this latest release is just as much an occasion as the last. With two brand new designs and Cyrillic language updates to three of our Pro packages, we have been counting down the days in high anticipation – we are simply super thrilled to bring you FF64.

New Designs

FF Mark

FF Mark

FFMark Showing

FF Mark Microsite

New meets old meets technic, FF Mark is more than just an average geometric sans. A special type project, Ze new Germanetric sans is a collaboration by Hannes von Döhren, Christoph Koeberlin, and the FontFont Type Department with creative support from Erik Spiekermann.

True to geometric tradition yet contemporary for today’s needs, the family of 10 weights ranging from Hairline to Black is designed with versatility in mind. Extreme weights have been engineered to shine bright in large sizes and middle weights optimized for body copy.

And to mark the launch of FF Mark, we are launching a new microsite to showcase and celebrate the thinking and creative process behind the typeface. Discover, interact with and download the exclusive Free Fönt at


FF Kievit Slab


FFKievitSlab Showing

Four years in the making and designed with utmost precision Mike Abbink and Paul van der Laan’s latest expansion of the FF Kievit superfamily has arrived.
The long-anticipated FF Kievit Slab has been carefully adjusted and fine-tuned in width and contrast to help make it an extremely robust and elegant typeface.

Much akin to its successful sisters, the new slab sibling comes in 9 weights from Thin to Black and matching italics, which makes it a perfect companion to other members of the FF Kievit family.

Typographical finesse has been delivered in the form of small caps, old style, lining, and tabular figures, and a mountain of OpenType glory.

The entire superfamily is well suited for editorial and book design, packaging and superfit for corporate branding and creative industries.

Language Extensions & Updates

Talk in even more type tongues with welcomed Cyrillic updates for FF Mister K Regular, FF Mister K Informal, FF Profile and FF Tisa Sans. Our extensive library also offer fonts for several scripts aside from Latin, including Greek, Arabic, Hebrew and even Armenian.

FF Mister K Regular Cyrillic

FFMisterKText Cyrillic

FF Mister K Informal Cyrillic

FFMisterKInformal Cyrillic

FF Profile Cyrillic

FFProfile Cyrillic

FF Tisa Sans Cyrillic

FFTisaSans Cyrillic


Featured Web FontFonts, July 2013

Our July round up of Web FontFonts in use features the likes of FF Typestar by eBoy’s Steffen SauerteigMitja Miklavčič’s subtle yet graceful FF Tisa and Michael Abbink’s ever so popular FF Kievit. Silvio Napoleone’s FF Hydra Text and Ludwig Übele’s FF Tundra also make an appearance. 

Rob Meek – FF Typestar Web and FF Tisa Web

Rob Meek Website

Rob Meek is an information architect, interface designer and developer with a fair few typography-related projects under his belt. His portfolio site features the geometric but typographically refined FF Typestar Web as headers teamed with the softer serifs of FF Tisa Web as body copy. 

Lean Day: West – FF Kievit Web

Lean Day:West Website

Portland Oregon will be playing host to this year’s Lean Day:West – a series of events focusing on implementing and practicing lean startup in the enterprise. Both thicks and thins from the FF Kievit family are used extensively throughout the site including FF Kievit Black Web as headlines through to FF Kievit Regular Web for copy.

Woodtype Research – FF Hydra Text Web and FF Tundra Web

Wood Type Research Website

Is wood your type? Wood Type Research is a blog dedicated to current research in wood type design, manufacture and use circa nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The sans of Silvio Napoleone’s FF Hydra Text Web along with the serifs of Ludwig Übele’s FF Tundra Web is fitting to set the tone for this homage and documentation to all things wood type.


In-use: FF Kievit helps you get where you need to go

FF Kievit in use by Hofstede Design

The Endeavour Hills Shopping Centre – located outside Melbourne, Australia – implements Mike Abbink’s FF Kievit typeface family into its wayfinding and environmental graphics. Hofstede Design began work on the project in late 2006. A symbol incorporating two interlocking ‘E’s forms the central element in their flexible and wide-ranging brand identity program. We caught up with the studio to ask them a couple of questions about the project.

FF Kievit

How did you find working with the typefaces?

The brief was to develop an identity and signage system for a shopping centre on the outskirts of Melbourne. We were commissioned by the design manager who oversaw all aspects of the centre’s redevelopment. We chose FF Kievit because we needed a versatile typeface which could work both in printed material, and also on the signage component. FF Kievit has an ‘approachable’ feel, and we felt it provided just the right mix of legibility and individuality. I think there are some default choices for signage (e.g., Frutiger, Helvetica, etc), and we wanted to do something a little different as well.

On your website, you mention that you are first and foremost graphic designers. Indeed, your portfolio reflects a very considered and real approach to design. What drives your head and hand to keep your originality and inspiration flowing?

I have been working for over twenty years now. Finding inspiration and originality gets harder and harder. As a studio, we strive for individual solutions for our clients, but the reality is that nothing is truly original. We do our best.

FF Kievit and FF Info

FF Kievit is a warm, open sans serif typeface, designed by Mike Abbink and extended by Paul van der Laan. The initial work on the typeface began in 1995. After years of development, the family was first released in 2001. The letters’ proportions make the typeface ideal for use in signage systems. Like many classic faces in this category, designers have found over the years that these forms let in enough light to allow the typeface to work in small print sizes, too.

Some aspects of the Endeavour Hills Shopping Centre design system are set in another FontFont typeface with a signage pedigree of its own: FF Info. In the image above, the pictograms and the arrows come from the family’s symbol fonts FF Info Pict. These were originally designed for use in the airport at Düsseldorf, Germany.

FF Kievit and FF Info in use by Hofstede Design


In-use: ElektroBIKE, powered by FF Milo and FF Milo Serif


Fans of e-bikes are a growing and devoted group. A publication aimed at these readers presents an opportunity to implement a typeface with a unique voice. When ElektroBIKE – a new German magazine – launched in 2011, it choose FF Milo and FF Milo Serif for its audience.

FF Milo and FF Milo Serif

FF Milo Sans

The magazine’s art directors haven’t fallen back on stock trends with their typography (like ‘sans for headlines, serif for text’). While most of the body text of the magazine’s articles are set in FF Milo Serif, the sans serif FF Milo family is used for much of the additional editorial information. Many of the magazine’s headlines – including most of the very large ones – are also seriffed. Both of the FF Milo families are really more like cousins than separate designs. They are both text faces, too, especially the FF Milo Regular and FF Milo Serif Regular fonts. 

Since ElektroBIKE keeps its headlines ‘in the family’, their pages rely on the full range of FF Milo and FF Milo Serif fonts. Including 30 weights in all, these two families make use of true italics, instead of obliques. FF Milo Serif Extra Bold Italic and Black Italic are both used in particular to set many of the magazine’s more dynamic headlines. When these heavier fonts are used, the high contrast between the letters’ thick and thin strokes creates a great effect. FF Milo in ElektroBIKE

ElektroBIKE FF Milo in close up

Just like most text faces in the FontFont library, FF Milo and FF Milo Serif include numerous figure styles. In the article pictured above, FF Milo’s oldstyle figures are used not just to add structure a list, but to give it visual power, too.

Almost all of ElektroBIKE magazine relies on FF Milo and FF Milo Serif. Flipping through the magazine, you only consciously notice other typefaces when stumbling across advertisement pages. The magazine’s nameplate is in a different typeface: Monotype's Neo Tech. This choice sets it apart from the text and headlines, and perhaps was made because of the technical – or electronic – nature of the subject matter.

Ligatures in action FF Milo

FF Milo Serif ligatures

We were pleased to see how ElektroBIKE implemented FF Milo Serif’s typographic features, too. The typefaces include several discretionary ligatures that may be accessed through OpenType. In the images above, you can see c-k and s-t ligatures in the ‘Packliste’ headline (packing list, in German), as well as a t-i ligature in ‘Südtirol’ (South Tyrol). None of these ligatures are linguistic or typographic requirements, but art directors know what sort of accent they can lend to large text.

 FF Milo and FF Milo Serif

The award-winning FF Milo and FF Milo Serif typefaces were designed by Mike Abbink and Paul van der Laan. The FF Milo family includes nine weights, ranging from Thin to Black, while FF Milo Serif is available in six weights, from Regular to Black.


FontShop’s FontCasts featuring seven FontFont designers

FontFont represents some of the most talented and interesting type designers in the world. And for most of the year, that’s where they are: scattered all over the globe. In celebration of FontShop’s 20th Anniversary, FSI’s Ivo Gabrowitsch took the opportunity of a rare gathering this spring to talk with seven FontFont designers and get their take on their personal history in type design and what’s coming next. These conversations, peppered with insight about the creative process, are a rare look at the faces behind the typefaces.

The first of three FontCasts – published as part of FontShop’s FontCast series – from the day features Michael Abbink from New York City (FF Kievit, FF Milo) and Erik van Blokland from The Hague (FF Trixie, FF Erikrighthand, FF Beowolf).

read more

New release: FF48

BERLIN, GERMANY, April 2009 — FSI FontShop International announced the latest additions to its award-winning FontFont® typeface library.

The new FontFonts

FF Dingbats 2.0 OT — The original FF Dingbats font package was designed in 1993 when there was no other symbol font available except Zapf Dingbats. The FF Dingbats package was the first with some 800 symbols and icons from the world of modern communication: faxes, ISDN, disks, keyboards … all absolutely usable. But over the following years times have been changing and quite a lot of pictograms for office communication are no longer needed – no-one uses floppy disks nowadays – or simply changed their appearance, so Johannes Erler and Henning Skibbe started a complete redesign two years ago.

FF Dingbats 2.0 OT

All pictograms have now been revised and adjusted according to the current stylistic vocabulary. Arrow and number fonts have been reworked and extended as well. All symbols have been sorted into clear categories, and the font “Strong Forms” includes the most needed symbols in a bolder version. Besides this, many symbols can be layered and coloured via an easy-to-use layering feature (see FF Dingbats 2.0 info guide PDF). All this makes FF Dingbats 2.0 a state-of-the-art font package again and probably the largest collection of contemporary symbols and icons for office communication.

FF Milo® was started in 2000 with the goal of a compact typeface with very low ascenders and descenders. Because of its compact design FF Milo is a workhorse typeface suitable for magazine and newspaper typography. It has modern bones with a touch of detail for distinction (especially in the italics). The name Milo is from a resilient grain and that's why the designer chose this name for the typeface. He wanted it to be a basic usable font like corn or grain is to any culture.

FF Milo Serif OT

With the help of Paul van der Laan for kerning, spacing and production, Michael Abbink developed FF Milo Serif as a companion to the Sans, but it is also perfectly suitable as a stand alone typeface or used together with any other sans serif typeface. Like FF Milo, FF Milo Serif is a text face with the utmost legibility, perfect for setting newspapers and magazine copy. Although rooted with historical attributes it is truly a contemporary face. FF Milo Serif comes with SC, TF, OSF, LF as well as a wealth of ligatures. Like the Sans, FF Milo Serif is also a resilient grain!

FF Seria Arabic

FF Seria® Arabic, originally called Sada, by designer Pascal Zoghbi, is an Arabic type companion to FF Seria, designed in the nineties by Martin Majoor. The Arabic type family was part of the Typographic Matchmaking 01 project organised by the Khatt Foundation. Echo, which means “Sada” in Arabic, is the repetition of a sound caused by the reflection of sound waves from a surface. Accordingly, Sada/Seria Arabic is the echo of FF Seria. FF Seria Arabic is a young crispy type based on the Arabic Nasekh style. The Regular and Bold are text typefaces, the Light is both display and text type, while the Black is purely a display typeface.

read more

ISTD Awards 2001: FF Kievit, FF Seria and FF Seria Sans

The International Society of Typographic Designers, with jurors Derek Birdsall, Anita Boyd, David Carson, Fred Flade, Chris Foges, Vince Frost, Lucienne Roberts and Erik Torstensson, have chosen two of our FontFont families for ISTD International TypoGraphic Awards 2001. The awards ceremony took place in London on November 27th, 2001.

read more