Famous Typographers of Famous Fonts: Adrian Frutiger
The English poet John Keats wrote, “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” But just imagine if he’d published that line using a font like Comic Sans – you’d hardly take it seriously!
Fonts are the size, weight and design of a typeface, governing the way each individual letter is presented, which greatly influences the look and even understanding of the information it presents.
Fonts are at once an art form and an industrial skill – the perfect balance of form and function.
We love good type at iFactory, and to celebrate the joy of fonts, we’re bringing you a four part blog series that explores the life and works of four influential typographers whose classic designs can be seen all around us; things of beauty that are a joy forever.
Adrian Frutiger – the modern man
Our first in the series is Adrian Frutiger, a Swiss typographer born in 1928 who greatly influenced digital typography until his recent death in September 2015.
Adrian Frutiger is widely acknowledged as a master typographer; one who pushed the development of modern fonts that not only look good but can be read easily from any angle – a crucial consideration for signage and digital displays.
Most of London’s street signs use Frutiger’s Univers Bold Condensed, and the Frutiger family of fonts is used on highway and railway signs across Europe.
The one thing each of Frutiger’s famous fonts have in common is that they are sans-serif – clean and simple designs that dispense with the lines added to the strokes of letters.
Adrian Frutiger: the early years
As a boy, Frutiger learned to write using the highly formal cursive penmanship then taught in Switzerland. But he found the style restricting and began designing his own fonts and writing styles.
After deciding to pursue a career in printing, Frutiger was offered an apprenticeship at the Otto Schlaefli printing house in Interlaken, immersing himself in the old school world of hot metal typesetting and printing, as well as taking classes in woodcuts and drawing.
In 1949 Frutiger went to attend the Kunstgewerbeschule or School of Applied Arts in Zurich, where he studied monumental inscriptions from Roman forum rubbings and calligraphy. Always innovative, he began experimenting with fonts and sketched the first drafts of what would become his famous font Univers.
From this strong foundation of artistic and industrial skills, Frutiger forged a career across Europe, employing the latest technologies to make families of fonts prized for their elegance and utility.
Adrian Frutiger: a lasting legacy
Frutiger’s career as a typographer is noted for straddling three distinct eras of typesetting, beginning in the classical days of hot metal and progressing through phototypesetting and then digital typesetting.
Frutiger was at the forefront of every technological innovation in typesetting in the 20th and 21st centuries, creating highly modern fonts with the newest tools while working from a deep knowledge of classical design and methods.
So the next time you’re driving down a highway in Europe, have a look at the road signs. You can thank Adrian Frutiger for the fact they’re so easy to read!
iFactory can create your design
Just like Adrian Frutiger, iFactory’s mission is to combine creative artistry with technical skill to create designs that cut through and capture attention.
By working directly with clients and creative, media and web companies, iFactory’s growing team of internet professionals can deliver stylistic, professional, market-driven internet solutions.