The idea of geometric typefaces is based on the absoluteness of mathematical perfection, on the basic forms such as circle, square and triangle, as well as linear strokes.
« I made such slight differences that the eye actually couldn’t see them any more, but would rather feel them. »
A typeface — especially a text typeface — should conform to certain optical criteria that render it pleasant to read.
To find the balance, to recognize the moment when the mathematical and the human join together in equilibrium, was for Adrian Frutiger the masterstroke in Avenir. Making that mathematically perfect form more pleasant to the human eye is what Frutiger considers his paramount achievement.
« I sat myself down in a small, quiet room, and first of all drew an o contained within a perfect circle — the first and most important letter. Then I refined it always with the goal of forming an easily readable curvature that was also easy on the eye. »
« A perfect circle makes the upper and lower portions of the o appear too fat — the same is true for the juncture with the stem. »
Even in a linear grotesque like Avenir, the half serifs have a slightly lighter stroke weight than the downstrokes.
With its downstroke, the G of Avenir follows the model of Roman capitals (left) rather than the geometric grotesques (right).
The stroke widths in Avenir are not constant — this comparison makes the slightly varying widths in the O apparent.
Three varying stroke weights in the A of Avenir, as made clear in the mirrored version.
The next heaviest weight of Avenir, when viewed in negative, looks optically identical to the preceding, lighter weight.
Adrian Frutiger’s concept of finely differentiated weights, enables text composition similar to halftone screen.
This is the typeface where he spent the most time.
Frutiger has been inspired by the FUTURA and the ERBAR, two typefaces from the Bauhaus.
There are also Heavy and Black versions but no Extra-bold or Ultra-bold, as these could not be designed in a constructivist style without making a lot of unattractive compromises in letters such as a, e, and s.
One of the most popular use of the Avenir is the communication of the city of Amsterdam, made by Thonik.
The four basic weights of Avenir are Light (35), Book (45), Roman (55) and Medium (65).
Scientific investigations have shown that the human eye has been shaped by nature so that it’s able to recognize danger, which comes more often from left or right than from above or below. In contrast, a fish or a bird has fully round eyes, since danger can from all sides. The insight here is that horizontal values are evaluated differently from vertical ones.
In contrast to Futura (left) and ITC AvantGarde Gothic (middle), the i f r t of Avenir are somewhat broader.
The oblique of Avenir LT as created electronically, and contains no optical electronically, and contains no optical correction — the angle of inclination is 8°.