Frutiger is a sans-serif typeface by the Swiss type designer Adrian Frutiger. It was commissioned in 1968 by the newly built Charles De Gaulle International Airport at Roissy, France, which needed a new directional sign system. Instead of using one of his previously designed typefaces like Univers, Frutiger chose to design a new one. The new typeface, originally called Roissy, was completed in 1975 and installed at the airport the same year.
Frutiger's goal was to create a sans serif typeface with the rationality and cleanliness of Univers, but with the organic and proportional aspects of Gill Sans. The result is that Frutiger is a distinctive and legible typeface. The letter properties were suited to the needs of Charles De Gaulle – modern appearance and legibility at various angles, sizes, and distances. Ascenders and descenders are very prominent, and apertures are wide to easily distinguish letters from each other.
The Frutiger family was released publicly in 1976, by the Stempel type foundry in conjunction with Linotype. Frutiger's simple and legible, yet warm and casual character has made it popular today in advertising and small print. Some major uses of Frutiger are in the corporate identity of Raytheon, the National Health Service in England, Telefónica O2, the British Royal Navy, the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Banco Bradesco in Brazil, the Finnish Defence Forces and on road signs in Switzerland. The typeface has also been used across the public transport network in Oslo, Norway, since the 1980s. In 2008 it was the fifth best-selling typeface of the Linotype foundry. Frutiger is also used by DHL Globally and by DPWN Deutsche Post in Germany. Frutiger was also produced by Bitstream under the name 'Humanist 777'.
Frutiger has absolutely no stress involved with any of its letters. All ascenders and descenders are very perpendicular and do not angle on way or the other on the stem. All of the baseline and x-heights end with rectangular aspect. This is true for all letters when they end, except for lowercase “c” and “s”, and then uppercase “C” and “S”. For the lowercase letters, not all the stroke widths are perfectly uniform. There are varying weights here and there, especially on the curves. This would include the bowls on letters like “a”, “b”, “c”, “d”, “g”, “p”, etc. Even though the typeface is very clean and organized, this is a nice way to add some visual interest and break up the even widths. The even widths are found in the uppercase letters. These are all uniform and have even weights on all parts of the letters. This contrasts the lowercase letters, and the contrast again adds some visual interest to the typeface because not every letter, lowercase or uppercase, are the same.
The numbers and symbols seem to be a mixture of aspects from the lowercase and uppercase letters. Some have the extremely even weight distributed throughout the form like “1”, “2”, “4”, and “7”. In contrast, most of the numbers and symbols have the visual interest of the lowercase letters by varying the widths and not sticking to that uniform and structured look.
Adrian Frutiger developed a two digit system to differentiate the weights of his first large typeface family, Univers. The base of the system was 55, the center of a roman upright font. The first digit of the classification expressed the thickness of the weights, for example, 4 is light, 5 is regular, and 9 is black. The second digit describes the type of weight, for example, 6 is italic, 7 is condensed.
An efficient but cheerful face, Frutiger embodies a unique timelessness. Frutiger’s clean, robust sans serif design still offers a relaxed appearance ideal for the juxtaposition of words and images.
Frutiger has been an extreme success, and in 2003 it has been revised (ASTRA-Frutiger) for use on highway signage in Switzerland. In addition, the typeface was revised and updated in 1999 by Adrian Frutiger himself (together with Linotype) to include true italics among other features; this typeface is called Frutiger Next.
Adrian Frutiger drew each weight by hand, a necessity before the age of computers. The difference is letter spacing can be seen when comparing Frutiger® 45 light to Frutiger 55 roman. Linotype and Adrian Frutiger decided to redesign the Frutiger family for the Platinum Series, as they had done previously with Linotype Univers®. The typeface family with its more harmonized weights is now available as Frutiger Next. The italic weights have been reworked into a truer italic form than the original oblique versions.
In 1957, Swiss designer Adrian Frutiger created a new kind of family, providing a full range of completely compatible variants planned in an orderly fashion. Frutiger felt that the traditional system of providing names (bold, semi-bold, semi-bold condensed, and so on) was confusing and outdated. Instead, he proposed what he believed was a logical and systematic number scheme. In Frutiger’s system, each typeface was given a two-digit suffix. The first digit classified the alphabet weight, with the figure 3 indicating the lightest weights in the family and the figure 8 the boldest. The second digit identified the typeface proportion: higher numbers were used for condensed designs and lower numbers for expanded designs. In addition, if the second number was odd, the typeface was a roman design; if it was even, the typeface was italic. Thus, Univers 39 is a very light condensed roman, while Univers 56 is a medium-weight italic of normal proportions.
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