“I had wanted to go into architecture or sculpture… then I realised that type is both of these things.”
Adrian Frutiger (Ein Leben für die Schrift, 2003)
On Saturday 12 September, the world lost one of its greats. Perhaps the general public will never know his contribution, but the design industry will feel the loss keenly. Even though he reached the ripe old age of 87, it still feels too soon to say goodbye to the man responsible for creating the Univers, Avenir, and of course the eponymous Frutiger typefaces.
Born in Bern in 1928, Adrian Frutiger worked as an apprentice compositor before studying at the Zurich School of Applied Arts. In the 1950s, he joined the Paris type foundry Deberny et Peignot where he later developed the sans serif Univers.
Described by many as the ‘20th century’s most influential type designer’, Frutiger’s work has featured on London street signs, on transport systems across the world, and by companies like Swiss International Airlines, General Electric and Deutsche Bank. More latterly he worked on digitally remastered and extended releases of his key font families.
Social media was awash on Saturday with heartfelt responses to the great man’s passing, including Erik Speakermann—“My hero and friend, Adrian Frutiger, best type designer of the 20th century, died today. His #Univers was a revolution back in 1957”; Bruno Maag—“I had the great fortune to meet Adrian Frutiger in his Paris office. We did not talk about type. We talked about art.”; and Hoefler & Co.—“Beyond a talent, he was a kind & generous spirit.”
This stunning book is a glorious representation of his legacy. (Thanks for @davidisaksson for the tip.)
Goodbye, Adrian. May you dance forever in the perfect white spaces in the sky.