Type – Adapted to Everyday Life

"Typography must be as beautiful as a forest – not like the concrete deserts of suburbia. A forest is not a single complex – there are distances between the trees which provide space to breathe and live.” The same holds true for type. If it is set too narrowly, it can no longer be recognized as type. “You need to leave space for the reader to breathe,” Frutiger says. That is why he always places utmost importance on making sure the type forms a symbiosis with its surroundings: “Type must be recognizable within fractions of a second.” And he means in all areas of life. For unlike any other, he has created typefaces for printing everything from books to departure schedules as well as for design purposes – or even for signs in public spaces.

“The grey lines on a book page are read differently than letters on a sign. There is a huge difference to be made between curling up with a good book in your favorite armchair or when you are rushing to catch your flight at the airport.” Yet one thing is always true: “The reader has to feel comfortable,” Frutiger concludes. Type should never scare people away or stress them out.

Frutiger has conducted extensive studies on typefaces (also his own) and come to the realization that, for signage at airports or on highways, book type, even when it is significantly enlarged, is far too closed in its forms. This is what led him to implement his “original” Frutiger for signs at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, only to name one example.

“Type consists of black and white elements: type bodies, white interiors and intermediate spaces. On a sign, type places different demands on readers than when it is in a book. When you are driving a car, or even walking, you have to be able to recognize the letters immediately,” Frutiger explains. The typefaces which he specifically created for these purposes feature open, clearly recognizable letters and symbols which can be quickly and unmistakably grasped. “A letter has to be as clear as an arrow,” Frutiger states and thereby essentially sums up everything which can be said on the subject. Signs which are not legible at first glance only cause confusion, instead of clarifying and providing orientation. This is valid in all fields.

Frutiger’s signature can therefore also be recognized on many street signs in Switzerland. Instead of implementing an existing typeface for these signs, Frutiger created a completely new one which ensured optimal legibility of the sign texts and symbols. The typeface implemented, “Frutiger Astra” from Linotype, is especially characterized by enlarged inner spaces. “In this way, letters like ’e’ or ’a’ can be more readily distinguished, whereas in previous typefaces the letters would only look like white spots from a distance. A car driver would be driving into a white hole of sorts,” Frutiger explains whimsically.

Search with the keyword for ‘Frutiger’ to find all fonts in the Linotype Library designed by Adrian Frutiger.

more ... Necessity is the mother of invention