Optima is a sans-serif typeface that has been a success ever since it was released in 1958. No wonder it made it to my list of interesting fonts.
What does Optima look like?
What do you use Optima for?
This legible font lends itself for a wide range of applications. Use it for anything that needs to look modern and yet classic in appearance. Keep in mind that Optima is overused in the cosmetics market. Beorcana and Hypatia Sans are interesting alternatives to Optima.
The history of Optima
German typeface designer Hermann Zapf, who also created Palatino, designed Optima between 1952-1955. His intent was to create a classic roman without serifs. The typeface was commercially released in 1958 and became an instant success. Over the years many foundries released look-alike fonts. In 2002 Hermann Zapf and Akira Kobayashia redesigned the font family. This new version is called Optima Nova.
Letters in a medieval church in Florence inspired Hermann Zapf to create Optima. Since he didn’t have any paper with him, he sketched the characters on a 1000 lire banknote.
Optima has both an italic and an oblique variant.
Other sources of information
Linotype has an interesting page with background information about Palatino and Optima. This list of opinions about McCain’s use of Optima as his campaign font during the 2008 US presidential elections is also a fascinating read.