The life’s Work of Adrain Frutiger

Graphic Design

Honours Student:
Taurai Mtake



The project was one of five project briefs set by the International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD). It is to celebrate the life’s work of Adrian Frutiger. The task was to create a prestigious ‘publication’ that celebrates the life and work of Adrian Frutiger. The publication should be special and pay homage to one of the world’s great type designers.

Many graphic designers have found it difficult and time consuming to select a typeface for a design. Not many have really research deeper into the meaning and process of the typefaces they use. Some say “I chose that typeface because I like it”, some say I chose it because it just looks cool for what I want to do”.

It is not only graphic designers that constantly say that but also other designers and craft enthusiasts. Some never really get to understand the process withing typeface designing and their meanings. This is partially due to the advancement of technology and not many of these designers get originally crafted designs.

I feel designers need to understand the technicality of typeface designing. Personally I applaud designers who try makings their own typefaces. It is important for designers to deepen their understanding of typography and type design. Designers need to learn through doing rather than just reading and having said this, I would like to appreciate a renowned typeface designer, Adrian Frutiger who set an example of how to be a good typeface designer. I would like to design a publication that will teach designers about a one of the best and successful typeface designers.

Another problem is that due to advancement of technology the method of printing called letterpress printing is dying, especially here in South Africa. A few typesetters and letterpress printers are left and I want this to not die out.

This concept is based on Adrian Frutiger’s quotes: “On my career path I learned to understand that beauty and readability – and up to a certain point, banality – are close bedfellows: the best typeface is the one that impinges least on the reader’s consciousness, becoming the sole tool that communicates the meaning of the writer to the understanding of the reader.”

“If you remember the shape of your spoon at lunch, it has to be the wrong shape. The spoon and the letter are tools; one to take food from the bowl, the other to take information off the page… When it is a good design, the reader has to feel comfortable because the letter is both banal and beautiful.” Seeing that Adrian Frutiger says that the letter is Banal and Beautiful my concept here is to work with that but lets define these first: Banal – something that is boring ordinary, not interesting. Beautiful – Generally pleasing, having qualities of beauty, exciting aesthetic pleasure. This concept is a combination of all concepts I had which included a typographic kit, wide family range of one typeface and numbers which is what Frutiger is known for. I this concept I decided work with his main life work that is Univers, Frutiger and Avenir.

The ISTD student assessment scheme, started in 1975, is cited as a model of academic thoroughness and professionalism. Unlike many others, the scheme is not a competition as it considers the holistic achievement – not just the final outcome. The overall design process of research, reflection, strategy, design development, technical and production specification is assessed by teams of practicing designers and educators. We demand this rigorous approach to ensure standards are met and that the award maintains its significance. The only way to become a member of ISTD is through assessment, either student or professional, once membership is awarded it is for life, granted your yearly subscription is met.