Adrian Frutiger (born May 24, 1928 in Unterseen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland) is a typeface designer who influenced the direction of digital typography in the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st. He is best known for creating the Univers and Frutiger typefaces. Adrian Frutiger was born in Unterseen, Canton of Bern, the son of a weaver. As a boy, he experimented with invented scripts and stylized handwriting in negative reaction to the formal, cursive penmanship then required by Swiss schools. His early interest in sculpture was discouraged by his father and by his secondary school teachers; they encouraged him to work in printing. Though in the world of print, he maintains the love of sculpture that has influenced his type forms.
Charles Peignot, of the Paris foundry Deberny Et Peignot, recruited Frutiger based upon the quality of the illustrated essay Schrift / Écriture / Lettering: the development of European letter types carved in wood. Frutiger's wood-engraved illustrations of the essay demonstrated his skill, meticulousness, and knowledge of letterforms. At Deberny & Peignot foundry, Frutiger designed the typefaces "Président", "Méridien", and "Ondine". In the event, Charles Peignot set Frutiger to work upon converting extant typefaces for the new phototypesetting Linotype equipment.
Adrian Frutiger's first commercial typeface was Président — a set of titling capital letters with small, bracketed serifs, released in 1954. A calligraphic, informal, script face, Ondine ("wave" in French), also was released in 1954. In 1955, Méridien, a glyphic, old-style, serif text face was released. The typeface shows inspiration by Nicholas Jenson, and, in the Méridien type, Frutiger's ideas of letter construction, unity, and organic form, are first expressed together. In 1956, he designed his first-of-three, slab-serif typefaces — Egyptienne, on the Clarendon model; after Univers, it was the second, new text face to be commissioned for photocomposition.
Univers is the name of a sans-serif typeface designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1954. Classified as a neo-grotesque typeface, one based on the model of the 1898 typeface Akzidenz-Grotesk, it was notable on its launch for its availability in a comprehensive but consistent range of weights and styles.
Frutiger would go on to become one of the most notable typeface designers of the 20th century, and Univers proved enormously influential: it was one of the first typefaces to fulfill the idea that a typeface should form a family of consistent, similar designs. Past sans-serif designs such as Gill Sans had much greater differences between weights, while Akzidenz-Grotesk and the Franklin Gothic family often were advertised under different names for each style, to emphasise that they were separate and different. By creating a matched range of styles and weights, Univers allowed documents to be created in one consistent typeface for all text, increasing the range of documents that could be artistically set in sans-serif type. Originally conceived and released by Deberny & Peignot in 1957, the type library was acquired in 1972 by Haas Type Foundry. It was transferred into the D. Stempel AG and Linotype collection in 1985 and 1989 respectively upon the Haas'sche Schriftgiesserei's acquisition and closure; it is now owned by Monotype following its purchase of Linotype in 2007.