Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Adrian Frutiger/Avenir Background


  • Designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1988.
  • Frutiger was born in March 24th, 1928, currently he is 85.
  • Avenir was released by Linotype GmbH
  • Avenir is classified as a Geometric Sans Serif

Avenir, designed in 1988 by Adrian Frutiger, shares common characteristics to several other geometric sans serif typefaces. His intention was to make a modern sans serif that also retained some humanistic feeling. When he started to design Avenir the world’s technologies were going through many advances. During the eighties computers were becoming increasingly popular. Microsoft and Apple Inc. were both coming out with new ideas and making personal computers. Just about everyone was being affected by these changes, because of that Frutiger designed this type for the future, he based it off of other typefaces such as Erbar and Futura, and even Univers, which Frutiger also designed. Avenir was originally released with

“Even though Avenir can be classified as a constructivist typeface, it does not have a purely geometric and linear drawing. The vertical stroke lengths have been reduced in order to
make text setting more legible, on the well-established grounds that the human eye takes in horizontals more easily than verticals and tends to grasp the meaning of a line in a horizontal sweep...” (Frutiger,

In 2004 Avenir was reworked by Frutiger and Akira Kobayashi to compensate for on-screen display issues. For example, one of the many revisions made was true italics Avenir was
now compatible with the screen, this reworking was deemed Avenir Next.

Adrian Frutiger was born in 1928 on March 24th. By the age of sixteen Frutiger became a printer’s apprentice near his home town. He then later moved to Zurich where he studied at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts. Once he completed his education Zurich journeyed to Paris, once there he started working at Deberny & Piegnot type foundry. Most of his work there helped move the foundry towards phototypesetting technologies. This is also where he started to design his own typefaces. Working here really helped Frutiger establish a name for himself.

Adrian Frutiger wrote multiple books throughout his career. One he wrote was entitled Signs and Symbols Their Design and Meaning. The book goes in depth about designing with symbols. He has symbols from hieroglyphics to punctuation marks. Frutiger defines the symbols and gives them meaning and proper use. Frutiger obviously cared about more than type, he cared about communication over all. He understand that even the alphabet are all just symbols, but how we use them either alone or together is what is important.

Avenir is a geometric sans serif with humanistic qualities. Its small nuances such as the ears of the n’s, u’s, etc. slightly get smaller by only a couple pixels.  Frutiger designed it that way for a reason, to combine traditional humanistic forms with modern forms. It is at first glance just another geometric typeface,  but after some research and observation it turns out that this type has unique, but subtle differences. The “O” is not a perfect circle, the vertical strokes are thicker than its horizontal strokes, and the “Q” has a tail that is a continuation of the stroke instead of dipping below the baseline. Avenir can also be used in a variety of situations. Logos, street signs, text, etc. I like the form of a majority of the letters, although I would prefer if the leg on the “K” came off of the arm instead of them meeting right on the stem.

“From all these experiences the most important thing I have learned is that legibility and beauty stand close together and that type design, in its restraint, should be only felt but not perceived by the reader.”

~ Adrian Frutiger


Bluhm, Andrew. "Type Gallery – Avenir." Linotype Type Gallery. Http://, n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2013.

Charmaine, Chessa and Elvin. "Avenir." Avenir. Wordpress, n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2013.

Frutiger, Adrian. "IX. Numerical Signs, X. Punctuation Signs." Trans. Andrew Bluhm.Signs and Symbols: Their Design and Meaning. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989. N. pag. Print.

SLC, and DJD. "Fonts by Appearance." Identifont. Http://, July 2008. Web. 05 Nov. 2013.

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