In the post-War period, the German typographer Herman Zapf was commissioned by the D. Stempel type foundry to design a commercial typeface. The first sketches of the typeface were done in 1950 at the cemetery of the Santa Croce Franciscan church in Florence as Zapf examined the types on the gravestones. As he didn’t have a notebook to hand, he sketched the letters on a 1,000 lire note. In 1952 the final artwork was finished and the typeface appeared a few years later under the name – thought hubristic by Zapf – Optima. In 2004, Zapf teamed up with Japanese type designer Akira Kobayashi to revise the original and release the Optima Nova typeface.
The unobtrusive, clinical typeface unites the merits of a classical Antiqua and a sans-serif. Its filigree character – its letters are based on the principle of the golden ratio – makes it a popular choice for advertising purposes in the cosmetics industry.