Frutiger produced the original drawings for one of his first designs, the Ondine typeface, by cutting and pasting black paper shapes. The black-and-white contrast soon came to play an important part in my professional life, he says. The contrast conveys the absolute construction of an image. Taking black away means adding white. In this way, the space between an R and an S becomes like a sculpture for me.
Frutiger designed more typefaces in the 1950s, including the Meridien® and Phoebus designs. His fonts were some of the earliest made for photocomposition printing. Frutiger sealed his international reputation, however, when he created the Univers® typeface for metal and film composition in 1957.
In 1961, Frutiger left Deberny & Peignot to found his own studio outside Paris with Bruno Pfäffli and André Gürtler. He developed custom type for the Charles de Gaulle airport in the early 1970s. Linotype later released the design as Frutigers namesake typeface. This led to many additional designs created for Linotype, among them the Avenir®, Centennial®, Serifa® and Didot® designs.
Recently, Linotype released the Capitalis typeface family, from Adrian Frutiger. This new family consists of two titling alphabets (Regular and Outline) and a suite of signs and symbols based on images from Frutigers book Signs and Symbols: Their Design and Meaning. Capitalis is a marked departure from Frutigers earlier work. In fact, he confesses that creating the family was a liberation for him. After working on so many structured and meticulously constructed typefaces, he says that creating this new design was a breath of fresh air.
Frutiger is also an accomplished painter, sculptor, symbologist and mathematician. He has authored a number of books on type and design, and his work with signs and symbols is legendary. He has taught at the Ecole Estienne and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, both in Paris.
Frutiger has been honored with numerous accolades within his long career. These include the Gutenberg Prize (Mainz, Germany), the Type Directors Club Medal, the French Grand Prix National des Arts Graphiques and the Society of Typographic Aficionados Typography Award.
Adrian Frutiger in his studio, September 2006 (photograph by Tamye Riggs)