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DIN Next is a typeface family inspired by the classic industrial German engineering designs, DIN 1451 Engschrift and Mittelschrift. Akira Kobayashi began by revising these two faces-who names just mean “condensed” and “regular”-before expanding them into a new family with seven weights (Light to Black).
The abbreviation “DIN” stands for “Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V.,” which is the German Institute for Industrial Standardization. In 1936 the German Standard Committee settled upon DIN 1451 as the standard font for the areas of technology, traffic, administration and business. The design was to be used on German street signs and house numbers. The committee wanted a sans serif, thinking it would be more legible, straightforward, and easy to reproduce.
They did not intend for the design to be used for advertisements and other artistically oriented purposes. Nevertheless, because DIN 1451 was seen all over Germany on signs for town names and traffic directions, it became familiar enough to make its way onto the palettes of graphic designers and advertising art directors.
The digital version of DIN 1451 would go on to be adopted and used by designers in other countries as well, solidifying its worldwide design reputation.
There are many subtle differences in DIN Next’s letters when compared withe DIN 1451 original. These were added by Kobayashi to make the new family even more versatile in 21st-century media. For instance, although DIN 1451’s corners are all pointed angles, DIN Next has rounded them all slightly. Even this softening is a nod to part of DIN 1451’s past, however. Many of the signs that use DIN 1451 are cut with routers, which cannot make perfect corners; their rounded heads cut rounded corners best.
Linotype’s DIN 1451 Engschrift and Mittelschrift are certified by the German DIN Institute for use on official signage projects.