Avenir is a sans-serif typeface (also known as font family) designed by Adrian Frutiger and released in 1988 by Linotype GmbH. The word Avenir is French for “future”. As the name suggests, the family takes inspiration from the geometric style of sans-serif typeface developed in the 1920s that took the circle as a basis, such as Erbar and Futura. Frutiger intended Avenir to be a more organic interpretation of the geometric style, more even in colour and suitable for extended text, with details recalling more traditional typefaces such as the two-storey ‘a’ and ‘t’ with a curl at the bottom, and letters such as the ‘o’ that are not exact, perfect circles but optically corrected.
Frutiger has described Avenir as his finest work. ‘The quality of the draughtsmanship – rather than the intellectual idea behind it – is my masterpiece. (…) It was the hardest typeface I have worked on in my life. Working on it, I always had human nature in mind. And what’s crucial is that I developed the typeface alone, in peace and quiet – no drafting assistants, no-one was there. My personality is stamped upon it. I’m proud that I was able to create Avenir.
Avenir Release Date
Avenir was originally released in 1988 with three weights, each with a roman and oblique version, and used Frutiger’s two-digit weight and width convention for names: 45 (book), 46 (book oblique), 55 (text weight), 56 (text weight oblique), (75)85 (heavy), and (76)86 (heavy oblique). The typeface family was later expanded to six weights, each with a roman and an oblique version.
The original release of Avenir has weights grouped very close together, with the difference barely distinguishable. In his autobiography, Frutiger explains that this was a response to the effects of how people perceive color. He intended the slightly bolder designs for white-on-black text, so they would look the same to a viewer as black-on-white.
Avenir weights compared. The white text is slightly bolder.
Between 2004–2007, Frutiger, together with Linotype’s in-house type designer Akira Kobayashi, reworked the Avenir family to expand the range of weights and features. The result was titled Avenir Next.
The initial release of the typeface family has increased to 24 fonts: six weights, each with a roman and italic version, in two widths (normal and condensed). Frutiger’s numbering system was abandoned in favor of more conventional weight names. The glyph set was expanded to include small caps, text figures, subscript and superscripts, and ligatures.
Two extra font weights (light and thin) were added to the font for the release of Avenir Next W1G, for a total of 32 fonts. This release also added Greek and Cyrillic glyphs in the regular width only.
The current set of weights is, therefore, ultra light, thin, light, regular, medium, demibold, bold and heavy, in four styles each (two widths and italics for each width). The installation on OS X does not include the thin and light weights but does include Greek and Cyrillic glyphs in the regular width.
Avenir Next Rounded (2012)
It is a version of Avenir Next with rounded terminals, designed by Akira Kobayashi and Sandra Winter.
The family includes 8 fonts in 4 weights (regular, medium, demi, and bold) and 1 width (based on normal width), with complementary italics. OpenType features include numerator and denominator, fractions, standard ligatures, lining and old-style figures, localized forms, scientific inferiors, subscript and superscript, and small caps.
Avenir Font Family Usage
- Avenir used by the election campaign of French president François Hollande.
- The city of Amsterdam uses Avenir as the principal typeface in its corporate identity. The font was chosen when design bureau Eden Design & Communication won a citywide competition. Eden contracted Thonik for the new design.
- In 2008, Wake Forest University adopted Avenir as its primary sans-serif typeface as part of a project to update the university’s visual identity, noting that the font “conveys the balance, simplicity, and strength of our University.”
- Avenir is used by the Eurovision Song Contest in all its brand communication materials.
- A modified version of Avenir Next was created for Best Buy. This version, called “Avenir Next for Best Buy”, is used in most Best Buy advertising and promotional material; the collection consists of 12 weights.
- Since 2011, the Hofmann balancing group (American Hofmann Corporation and Hofmann Mess- und Auswuchttechnik) have used Avenir for their logo and as their official font.
- Apple uses Avenir for its Maps app and some Siri screens in iOS 6. OS X Mountain Lion and iWork for iCloud also come pre-loaded with various weights of Avenir and Avenir Next.
- François Hollande used Avenir on his campaign materials during the 2012 French presidential election.
- Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has used Avenir and Avenir Next for their mobile apps and websites since 2012.
- Samsung used Avenir for their Galaxy brand starting from 2016.
Uno (bus company) use Avenir as their primary corporate font.
- Freeform used Avenir as their corporate font.
- Since early 2016 Snapchat has used Avenir as the app’s main font.
- WPVI-TV (the ABC owned-and-operated station in Philadelphia) has been using Avenir as its main font for its Action News local newscasts since June 26, 2017.
- BBC Two has used Avenir for its identity since 2007.