Thursday, 14 March 2013


It’s interesting to note just how effective such simple details like typefaces make to an organisation at large. There is a sense of unity, refinement and definition in identity that is demonstrated to its audience and which has made it fascinating to research.

The geometric sans-serif typeface Avenir was released by the foundry of Linotype GmbH, which was the United States’ leading manufacturer in books and newspaper equipment. Designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1988, the font Avenir has in recent years made a few notable appearances throughout the world one way or another.

Certain Type

The designer, Adrian Frutiger was born in 1928 in Unterseen, Switzerland. His career began when he was initially recruited by the Parisian foundry Deberny et Peignot - he was recognised for his accuracy in skill, quality of work, meticulousness and knowledge of letterforms presented in his wood-engraved illustrations (Sadha, 2012). Today, he is recognised as a typeface designer who was able to successfully influence the direction of digital typography during the late 20th Century. 

The typeface Avenir which means ‘future’ in French was initially inspired by the works of Jakob Erbar’s Erbar (1922) and Paul Renner’s Futura (1927) however with a spin (Ward, 2010). Frutiger intended to create Avenir in a way that appeared to be more organic in movement; with that being said Avenir is not a truly geometric sans serif typeface but a blend of geometric and humanist san-serif conventions. Humanist san-serif typefaces would be considered as those fonts which have slight imperfections in terms of line width; which differs to geometric sans-serif which pride themselves on near perfect circles and squares as well as being even in lines. 

"Obviously this could not be an outstanding new creation, but I have tried to make use o fthe experience and stylistic developments of the 20th century in order to work out an indepent alphabet meeting modern typographical needs" - Frutiger (Linotype)

It was through the late 1990s that Fruitger began to collaborate with the in-house designer at Linotype GmbH Akira Kobayashi. Together the pair worked on refining and expanding Frutigers’ typefaces which included Frutiger, Univers and Avenir. They were able to remodel a font family which could adhere to onscreen display requirements, as well as introduce an extended font family: Avenir Next (Homburg, 2004). This meant that there were now four typeface sets within the group: Regular, Italic, Condensed and Condensed Italic as well as six new weights: ultralight, regular, medium, demi, bold and heavy. Fascinatingly enough, the vertical strokes are much thicker than the horizontal (Ward, 2010) By creating such a vast selection of fonts, Avenir became flexible and has meant that it can suit any purpose and can be implemented within works easily.

Hotel Amsterdam

BBC Two 


Today, Avenir is seen throughout our advancing world; in ways we have not known before! The Avenir typeface for instance is dubbed as the city of Amsterdam’s principle typeface in establishing its corporate identity. The UK broadcasting channel BBC Two has also recently adapted the use of Avenir within its corporate logo. Even airlines have hopped on board and begun to use Avenir as seen on Hong Kong International Airport as well as Japanese Airlines. And, to make things seem a little closer to home or perhaps, too close - switch to your iPhone and check out Maps, Apple have adapted the use of Avenir in its latest Mountain Lion system as well as all iOS 6 interfaces! (Diaz, 2012)

Reference List

  • Diaz, J. (2012) "This is Apple's New Favourite Typeface (Updated)" <> accessed 13th of March 2013
  • Gianotten, H (2003) "Avenir, The Future for Amsterdam" in Linotype News Press Releases <> accessed 14th of March 2013
  • Homburg, B (2004) "Linotype presents Avenir Next" in Linotype News Press Release <> accessed 14th of March 2013
  • Hotel Amsterdam (2013) "Hotel Amsterdam Photo Gallery" <> accessed 14th of March 2013
  • Linotype (2012) "Type Gallery - Avenir" <> accessed 13th of March
  • Sadha, A (2012) "Thinking Adrian Frutiger" in Thinking Form <> accessed 13th of March 2013
  • Ward, S (2010) "Avenir Typeface Genealogical Study" <> accessed 13th of March 2013

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