Monday, August 31, 2009

Frutiger it is.

After narrowing down my font adoration to frutiger, serifa and news gothic, I have decided frutiger is the one.

About the font:
Frutiger (1976/2001) When old Orly airport became too small to cope with the air traffic in Paris, a plan for a new airport—the Charles-deGaulle in Roissy was beginning to unfold under the guidance of an architect called Paul Andreu. Adrian Frutiger was invited to work out the entire information and navigational system exclusively based on lettering as pictograms were excluded from the information system at the architect’s expressed wish. (“He was convincing me that the word BAR is equally understandable as a wineglass drawing,” Frutiger recalls after these years. The most distinct “pictogram” of the whole system, in the end, was a cleverly constructed arrow. OldÅ™ich Hlavsa summarises the whole solution with these words: “A robust, simple and factual Sans Serif font appeared whose distinctive advantage was that it was easy to distinguish. Bearing in mind the functionally selected tones of the fl oors, ceilings, brickwork, even the furnishings and other interior features, the font author designed dark yellow signs with a black font for the French and white for the English text. Information texts are the most simple and are complemented by direction arrows. (…) The font has perfect individual width proportions, which became a standard mark of the author’s work.”

The font was originally named Roissy, then renamed to Frutiger. The whole alphabet was structured using a system derived from the Univers font in fi ve stroke widths. Although Frutiger admits his font has certain weaknesses today (being too bright and closed), it justifi ed its function so much, that it not only guides passengers at the Paris airport, but also motorists on the roads of France and Switzerland or the eye of the reader in book titles. (With similar simplicity and elegance, Frutiger modernised the Paris Metro system at that time: again, using a dominant arrow and a minimum of pictograms. In the Metro alphabet (1973), an unusual, open and wider construction of the “M” character is worth attention—typographically simple and, simultaneously, an immensely spectacular reference as to the sense of the whole alphabet, and to its name.) Even Frutiger lived to see its “remake” in the form of the Frutiger Next font. (In the Page magazine, 11/2001, Helmut Kraus dedicated a witty essay to it, built on the opposition of the successful retrodesign—Frutiger and Frutiger Next—and the unsuccessful one—the VW Mini automobile of 1959 and BMW Mini of 2001. Although in German, it is worth reading!) Frutiger reshaped the font much more distinctively than he once did Univers. He enhanced its legibility by considerably enlarging it, weakened the strict logic of each category in favour of the aesthetical impact, re-divided the stroke widths, reduced the absolute height of the characters, generally narrowed and modernised them, added another category (Medium). The font is now well legible and usable for larger texts particularly in its smaller sizes. The original Frutiger did not have true Italics: the characters had a 12–grade slant. Frutiger Next Italics was all drawn, and the beautiful sharp “s”, “euro”, “et” and “at”–sign characters draw their own inspiration from the shapes of the written script. As if Frutiger Next, presented to the world in June 2001, would act like a ring enclosing the author’s progression from enthusiasm for manuscript through strictly rational and logical constructions, back to the beauty and uniqueness of the strokes of a well legible script. “Frutiger Next represents a well-equipped kit for modern communication,“ adds Helmut Kraus.

About the man:
Adrian Frutiger was born in 1928 in Interlaken, Switzerland, and by the age of 16 was working as a printer’s apprentice near his home town. Following this he moved to Zurich where he studied at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts, under Professor Walter Kach.

After his education in Zurich, Frutiger moved to Paris where he started to work at the Deberny & Peignot typefoundry. Here he helped the foundry move classic typefaces used with traditional printing methods to newer phototypesetting technologies. Presently Frutiger lives in Bern, Switzerland and is working with woodcuts.

A word from Adrian Frutiger:
I first experienced the power of type to make the whole intellectual world readable with the same letters in the days of metal. This awakened in me the urge to develop the best possible legibility. The time soon came when texts were no longer set in metal types but by means of a beam of light. The task of adapting the typefaces of the old masters from relief type to flat film was my best school. When we came to the “Grotesk” style of sanserif, however, I had my own ideas which led to the Univers® family. Technological progress was rapid. Electronic transfer of images brought the stepping, followed by my feelings for form. But today, with curve programs and laser exposure, it seems to me that the way through the desert has been completed.
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. In the course of my professional life I have aquired knowledge and manual skill. To pass on what I had learned and achieved to the next generation became a necessity.

1 comment:

kidwell said...

three beautiful options...liking the final selection!