Obit> Legendary type designer Adrian Frutiger passes away at 87

The Univers typeface anatomy. (Liliana Diaz Cruz / Flickr)

The Univers typeface anatomy. (Liliana Diaz Cruz / Flickr)

The master of optical type and genius behind typefaces such as Univers, Avenir, and Frutiger, Adrian Frutiger passed away earlier this month on September 10 at the age of 87. If it wasn’t for Frutiger, we may be misreading gate numbers, having to step ever closer to read departure lounge notice boards, and letting type get in the way of our lives.

Frutiger at Schipol airport, Netherlands. (Pieter van Marion / Flickr)

Frutiger at Schipol airport, Netherlands. (Pieter van Marion / Flickr)

This may sound extreme, but as one of the first to properly investigate the legibility of type, Adrian Frutiger paved the way for future typographers and designers such as Erik Spiekermann, contributing to many of the typefaces we take for granted today.

AN is a benefactor of Frutiger’s work, using the typeface Univers in its printed publication, while JFK International and a whole host of airports employ his eponymous Frutiger for their signage. Without his pioneering work we may be disadvantaged on a mass scale in terms of identifying what it is we’re actually meant to be reading.

Univers on the UK Prime Minister's street sign. (Rosscophoto / Flickr)

Univers on the UK Prime Minister’s street sign in London. (Rosscophoto / Flickr)

The Swiss-born type designer carried out rigorous tests when developing his works, examining readability at different distances, seeing what shapes and forms were easy to discern from one and other.

Despite his death, his work will undoubtedly live on, making our meanderings through airports, train stations and other areas that employ his signage all the more easier.

Keeping it Swiss. American Airlines recently switched from Helvetica to Frutiger for the typeface. (Eric Salard / Flickr)

Keeping it Swiss. American Airlines recently switched from Helvetica to Frutiger for their typeface. (Eric Salard / Flickr)

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