The word Avenir is French for the “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-story ‘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 described Avenir as his finest work: ‘The quality of the draftsmanship – 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.
emphasizing a very clean layout.