A B C D E F G H I J K L MNOP Q R S T U VWXYZ 2
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.
Cap Height X-Height
Univers Open 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.
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.
g g g Akzidenz Grotesk
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 â€œgâ€? 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.
G G Futura
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
i i 11 Tittle
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’.
Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa Futura
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
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.
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.