Freda Sack – British type designer and typographer

Published on Thursday 30 July 2020
Posted in Biographies

Freda speaking at Typo Talks London 2012
Freda speaking at Typo Talks London 2012. Photo courtesy of Jason Wen © 2012.

Freda Sack (1951–2019), a British type designer and typographer, one of the principals of The Foundry type design partnership. Freda also designed fonts included in the Letraset, ITC, and Linotype libraries earlier in her career.

Freda studied typography at Maidstone College of Art, School of Printing. Her type design career started at Letraset, and included working with URW Hamburg developing the first font creation applications. Since the late 1970s, Freda worked for various font manufacturers including Stempel, Linotype, Berthold, and ITC, in all aspects of type design and font development. During this time she has created numerous fonts, particularly in photosetting technology for advertising.

Since the late 1980s, Freda worked in partnership with David Quay on a broad range of type projects. The natural progression for their collective skills and experience was setting up an independent type foundry, and in 1989 they co-founded The Foundry, to design, manufacture and licence their exclusive typefaces. As a partnership their commissions have included bespoke typefaces, marks, and logotypes – a directory typeface to be readable at very small sizes for Yellow Pages (awarded a D&AD Silver); corporate fonts for BG plc (British Gas) and NatWest bank, as well as signage typefaces for the UK railway infrastructure and the Lisbon Metro system, Portugal.

About a decade later, David’s yearning to spend more time teaching in mainland Europe was realized when he became a professor in Germany, and then located to Amsterdam. Meanwhile, Freda set up Foundry Types Ltd in 2000 to manage and further develop The Foundry fonts. Still working closely together, the typeface library was expanded to cover further formats and various languages, with several new families added by the partners.

Foundry Types was commissioned to design more corporate typefaces notably for Swiss International Airlines, new fonts for NatWest, More Than, the Science Museum, and in multi-languages for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Freda was awarded an Honorary Master of Arts by the University for the Creative Arts and was a governor on the UCA Board. Freda co-chaired the International Society of Typographic Designers with David Quay 1994–9 when they ran the memorable ISTD Lecture series; and ISTD Chair from 2000–4. Freda was awarded an ISTD Honorary Fellowship for her contribution as a past-president, board director of ISTD, and dedication to promoting typography in all of its inspiring forms. She was also a member of Letter Exchange and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Freda passed away in 2019 and was a pivotal figure in the world of typography, design education, and the ISTD. Her dedicated contribution to the industry worldwide has been immeasurable. Freda’s design philosophy, spirit, and lasting legacy is always evident in our approach to design and is sorely missed.

Back to top