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U Univers


A B C D E F G H I J K L MNOP Q R S T U VWXYZ 2

Univers


History In the 1920s and 30s, san serif typefaces infil-

with the creation of Univers. Throughout his ca-

trated the design world. Most were very rigid,

reer he created many other prominent typefaces

geometric, and often inspired by Bauhaus.

such as Linotype Didot, Apollo, Avenir, Frutiger,

Examples of these typefaces include Akzidenz

and Iridium. Despite being the man behind so

Grotesque, Futura, and Helvetica. Adrian Frutiger

many world-renowned designs, Frutiger cared

designed Univers to change this legacy of overly

about more than personal success. He stated “to

square sans serifs and refer more to the refine-

pass on what I had learned and achieved to the

ment of roman type. It was designed to serve as

next generation became a necessity.”

a title face, like the other sans serifs, but also to function as body text. Today Univers is used in

Frutiger’s vision for Univers was born not only

many contexts from branding to standardized

out of a desire to change the stylistic direction of

testing. Even design giant Apple used it on their

sans serifs, but also in response to the demands

keyboards for many years.

of changing times. Up until the 1950s, type foundries designed letterforms to be made out

Adrian Frutiger, born in Switzerland in 1928,

of lead. Then in 1949, French electrical engineers

seemed to always know he was meant to be a

René Higonnet and Louis Moyroud invented the

designer: “I was fortunate. Early in life, I under-

Lumitype-Photon machine which used photo-

stood that my world was a two-dimensional one.

graphic processes to reproduce text instead.

At sixteen I knew that my work would be in black

When this machine became more common, it

and white.” His career began with an appren-

was necessary for type foundries to reproduce

ticeship as a compositor in Interlaken. This was

old typefaces or fabricate ones for the new tech-

followed by schooling at the Kunstgewerbes-

nology. Deberny & Peignot, the foundry where

chule in Zurich from 1949-51. After graduation,

Frutiger was employed, worked on reformatting

Frutiger was invited by Gustave Peignot to move

a sans serif typeface for the new Lumitype.

to Paris and work as the artistic director at his

Futura was suggested to fulfill the role. Frutiger,

type foundry Deberny & Peignot. A few years

however, had his own ideas and insisted they

after taking the position, Frutiger earned respect

give him a chance at creating a brand new

as a type designer with his first major typefaces,

typeface. In only ten days he built an entire

Ondine, Président, and Méridien. Only a couple

unique font system, a system that would later

years later he gained an international reputation

be called Univers.

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Cap Height X-Height

Baseline

Univers Open Counter

Tittle

Shoulder

Counter

Identifying Characteristics Univers is an extremely elegant and seemingly

released with an astounding twenty-one widths

simple design. It does not feel constructed; it

and weights, which was new for its time. Rather

flows more naturally than other more geometric

than naming these variations “bold,” “medium,”

typefaces, while still maintaining similar simplic-

“thin,” etc. as was conventional, Frutiger created

ity of form. The widths of the letterforms’ strokes

a unique numeric code to label them. In 1997, the

fluctuate, making them much more organic than

typeface was redrawn through a collaboration

purely square letterforms. The typeface also

between Lumitype and Frutiger and now has

gave designers a lot of tools to work with. It was

over sixty different versions.

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Univers


Anatomy Ascender

Stem

Spur

Finial

Descender, ending in a Tail

The arms of the “K” meet right at the stem. The weight of this “K” is Black, or as Frutiger labeled it, 75.

Arm

K Bowl

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g g g Akzidenz Grotesk

Helvetica

Univers

Akzidenz Grotesk

g Univers

Helvetica

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Univers

Comparisons

Univers sought to improve upon many other sans serif typefaces popular at the time, such as Futura and Akzidenz Grotesk, which both Univers and Helvetica were inspired by. Lowercase “g� is a good example to show how both Univers and Helvetica stemmed from Akzidenz Grostesk. While there are differences, the similarities are very apparent.


oo ooo o Circle A perfect, uniform circle

Futura “o” Most geometic, looks almost identical to the circle

Helvetica “o” More ovular, but stroke width fairly consistent

Univers “o” Varies the most from a circle due to ovular shape and varying line weight

Futura & Univers Futura on Univers demonstrates the difference in circularity

Helvetica & Univers Helvetica on Univers illustrates Univers’ fluctuating stroke weights

Compared to Futura and Helvetica, Univers is

horizontals,” as Frutiger describes. The differenc-

less rigid and more similar to roman style type.

es in geometry of these typefaces is especially

Helvetica interpreted Akzidenz in a much more

apparent when comparing their lowercase “o”s

square fashion, with very even stroke weights

with a perfect circle. The weight variations can

and little variation between letterforms. The

also been seen more easily when the letters are

strokes in Univers express a greater play with

stacked. Because of its more organic nature,

thick and think strokes; they have more of a

Univers is very versatile; it functions as body

“visual sensitivity […] in the verticals and the

copy as it does as title text.

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G G Futura

Helvetica

Univers

Letterforms Although many people may confuse Univers with typefaces such as Futura, Helvetica, and Akzidenz Grotesk, its letterforms have many differences. For example, Futura’s uppercase “G” is very circular, while Helvetica’s and Univers’ both feature straight edges. Univers’ “G” also lacks Helvetica’s spur. The tail of the “R” from Akzidenz Grotesk is straight versus Univers’ curved tail. The ascender of most “t”s are flat, however Univers’ features an angled one. It also has a curved tail instead of a straight one. In contrast, Univers’ “y” has a straight descender, while Helvetica’s has a curved tail. The tail of Univers’ “Q” lays flat on the baseline unlike most typefaces. The tittle of Univers is square, whereas on Futura it is a circle. Lastly, the terminals of the “1”s are treated differently. For Helvetica, the top is very curved while Univers has a much straighter diagonal.


R t t y y QQ

Ascender

Arm

Akzidenz Grotesk

Univers

Tail

Futura

Univers

Descender

Helvetica

Univers

Helvetica

Tail

Univers

i i 11 Tittle

Futura

Univers

Terminal

Helvetica

Univers

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Character Sizes The spacing of the letterforms also varies between typefaces. While Univers has a lower cap height than Futura, it has a higher x height. In contrast, Helvetica’s x-height is slightly larger than Univers’ while the cap heights are almost identical. This can be seen when comparing an uppercase and lowercase letter such as “Aa.” Futura’s upper cases are clearly taller than Univers,’ and the “A” extends even further thanks to its pointed apex. However, Futura’s lowercase “a” is taller than Futura’s, meaning it has a higher x-height. Futura’s “a” is a very round single-story style while Univers’ is a taller double-story. Helvetica however, has a more similar cap height and x-height to Univers. They both also share a flat apex on the “A” and doublestory style “a”s. Akzidenz Grotesk also shares a close cap height and flat apex, but its x-height is lower than both Helvetica’s and Univers’.

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Univers


Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa Futura

Univers

Helvetica

Univers

Akzidenz Grotesk

Univers

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Univers

Futura

Helvetica

12

Univers

Typefa Typefa Typefa


ace ace ace

Character Widths In addition to character heights, individual character widths also vary from typeface to typeface. In general, Univers is a fairly wide typeface with generous tracking, making its sentences longer than those of Futura and Helvetica. However, even if Univers is a wide face in general, some individual characters are narrower than others. For instance, while its “T” is much wider than that of Futura, its “u” is only slightly wider and the “a” is actually narrower.

Tau T au Univers

Futura

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b b A lowercase “b” in Helvetica is placed on top of a lowercase “b” in Univers, which helps demonstrate the greater variation in stroke weight in Univers.

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Univers


Bibliography F oundry Univers Created and Cast by Deberny Et Peignot, Paris for American Type Found ers. Elizabeth, NJ: ATF, Type Division, 1968. Archive.org. Web. Apr. 2016. Frutiger, Adrian. “Font Designer – Adrian Frutiger.” Linotype. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2016. <http://www.linotype.com/720/adrian-frutiger.html>. Heller, Steven, and Philip B. Meggs. Texts on Type: Critical Writings on Typography. New York: Allworth, 2001. Print. Livingston, Alan, and Isabella Livingston. The Thames and Hudson Encyclopaedia of Graphic Design and Designers. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1992. Print. Majoor, Martin. “Inclined to Be Dull.” Eye Magazine. Eye Magazine, 2007. Web. Apr. 2016. Majoor, Martin. “Martin Majoor Type Design.” Martin Majoor Type Design. My Type Design Philosophy, 2010. Web. Apr. 2016. <http://www.martinmajoor.com/6_my_philosophy.html>. Schwemer-Scheddin, Yvonne. “Reputations: Adrian Frutiger.” Eye Magazine. Eye Magazine, 1999. Web. Apr. 2016. “The First Working Phototypesetting Machine and the First Book It Typeset (1946 – 1953).” HistoryofInformation.com. Jerry Norman, n.d. Web. Apr. 2016. “Univers.” History of Graphic Design. N.p., 2015. Web. Apr. 2016. <http://www. historygraphicdesign.com/the-age-of-information/the-international-typographic-style/735univers>. “Univers: Swiss Design, French Elegance.” Snow White and Sex Dwarfs. N.p., 23 Nov. 2011. Web. Apr. 2016. <https://snowwhiteandsexdwarfs.wordpress.com/tag/univers-typeface/>.

Colophon This book was typeset in Univers 55 at 9 point size with 15 point leading. Headers were set in Univers 65 at 15 point size. Captions and folios were set in Univers 45 with 7 point size and 8.4 point leading. Printed at Sam Fox School with pamphlet stitch binding. Book designed and created by Katie Ehrlich for Typography 1 in Spring 2016.

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