Sunday, October 3, 2010

The history of Serifa

Biography of font designer:

Adrian Frutiger was born near Interlaken, Switzerland, 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.
            At the age of sixteen, he was apprenticed four years, as a compositor, to the printer Otto Schaerffli in Interlaken; between 1949 and 1951 he studied under Walter Käch and Alfred Willimann in the Kunstgewerbeschule (school of applied arts) in Zürich, where students studied monumental inscriptions from Roman forum rubbings. At the Kunstgewerbeschule, Frutiger primarily concentrated on calligraphy — a craft favouring the nib and the brush, instead of drafting tools.
arles 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", "Phoebus", and "Ondine". In the event, Charles Peignot set Frutiger to work upon converting extant typefaces for the new phototypesetting Lumitype 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 commissioned for photocomposition processing.
Charles Peignot envisioned a large, unified font family, that might be set in both the metal and the photocomposition systems. Impressed by the success of the Bauer foundry's Futura typeface, Peignot encouraged a new, geometric sans-serif type in competition. Frutiger disliked the regimentation of Futura, and persuaded Peignot that the new sans-serif should be based on the realist (neo-grotesque) model. The 1896 face, Akzidenz Grotesk, is cited as the primary model. To maintain unity across the 21 variants, each weight and width, in roman and italic, was drawn and approved before any matrices were cut. In the Univers font, Frutiger introduced his two-digit numeration; the first digit (3 though 8) indicates the weight, "3" the lightest, "8" the heaviest. The second digit indicates the face-width and either roman or oblique. The response to Univers was immediate and positive; he claimed it became the model for his future typeface: Serifa.
            Adrian Frutiger developed Serifa in 1964, and it was released by the Bauer Type Foundry in 1967. He based the shapes in Serifa on those in Univers, the sans serif family he designed in the 1950s. While Serifa retains the geometric, linear skeletons of Univers, it has the addition of unbracketed square serifs, a squatter x-height, and boxier caps. Because of these characteristics, Serifa is a true representative of the slab serif (or Egyptian) style. Slab serifs designs first emerged at the beginning of the nineteenth century and have had a couple popular revivals in the twentieth century. Serifa is surprisingly elegant and legible, and with its six weights, it functions well in both text and display typography. See also Glypha, which is a condensed version of Serifa.
In the early 1970s, the RATP, the public transport authority of Paris, asked him to examine the Paris Metro signage. He created a Univers font variation — a set of capitals and numbers specifically for white-on-dark-blue backgrounds in poor light. The success of this modern, yet human, typeface, spurred the French airport authority's commissioning a "way-finding signage" alphabet for the new Charles de Gaulle International Airport in the Roissy suburb of Paris. The "way-finding-signage" commission brief required a typeface both legible from afar and from an angle. Frutiger considered adapting Univers, but decided it was dated as too-Sixties. The resultant typeface is an amalgamation of Univers tempered with organic influences of the Gill Sans, a humanist sans-serif typeface by Eric Gill, and Edward Johnston's type for the London Transport, and Roger Excoffon's Antique Olive. Originally titled Roissy, the typeface was renamed Frutiger when the Mergenthaler Linotype Company released it for public use in 1976.
Frutiger's 1984 typeface Versailles is an old-style serif text with capitals like those in the earlier Président. In Versailles, the serifs are small and glyphic. In 1988, Frutiger completed Avenir ("future" in French), inspired by Futura, with structural likeness to the neo-grotesques; Avenir has a full series of unified weights. In 1991, he finished Vectora, a design influenced by Morris Fuller Benton's type faces Franklin Gothic and News Gothic. The resultant face has a tall x-height and is legible in small-point sizes.
In the late 1990s, Frutiger began collaborating on refining and expanding the Univers, Frutiger, and Avenir, in addressing hinting for screen display. Univers was reissued with sixty-three variants; Frutiger was reissued as Frutiger Next with true italic and additional weights. Collaborating with Linotype designer Akira Kobayashi, Frutiger expanded the Avenir font family with light weights, heavy weights, and a condensed version that were released as the Avenir Next font.
Adrian Frutiger's career and typeface development spans the hot metal, phototypesetting, and digital typesetting eras. Currently, he lives near Bern. In 2003, the Swiss watchmaker Ventura commissioned him to design a new watch face for a limited-edition line of wristwatches. He also designed a wordmark for the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. Originally, the institute was named National Design Institute, however, the institute re-named itself to match Adrian Frutiger's stylized NID logotype alongside the name "National Institute of Design.

History of the font’s classification: slab serif

Slab serifs are also referred to as square serifs, Egyptians, or Mecanes and, in the early 19th century when they first appeared, as Antiques. The early slab serif types which appeared in England from 1817 onward were display faces specifically designed for advertising and other jobbing work. Their heavy monoline and mechanical structure and unbracketed square serifs gave them more impact than the fat faces (“beefed-up Modern types), and they were a great success. Initially, these fonts were produced in capitals only, but lower-case forms soon followed, and slab serifs remained popular until the last quarter of the 19th century.
            In the 1920s and 30s, a crop of new geometric-style slab serifs were released as a spin-off from the Geometric sans-serifs such as Futura. This string of Geometric designs included Memphis (1929), Beton (1931), Stymie (1931), and Rockwell (1934) – these types often have been referred to as Futura with serifs. The faces were tame compared to their fat and aggressive 19th-century models and were more suitable for text setting, albeit on a limited scale. City (1937), a rather ugly design with poor legibility, was also released at this time.
In 1938, Schadow Antiqua by Georg Trump appeared. This was a slab serif with lighter unbracketed serifs. It had some contrast in the width of the letters and a narrower set width. The type is now available as Stempel Schadow (1983) and has a full range of weights and italics. Egyptian 505 and Egyptienne (1960), which have slightly bracketed concave serifs, are in the same mold. There has also been a steady flow of new geometric slab serif designs in recent times. Adrian Frutiger’s Serifa (1967) and Glypha (1979), ITC Lubalin Graph (1974) by Herb Lubalin, and Calvert (1980) by Margaret Calvert are some typical examples.
In the mid-1800s, a sub-group of slab serifs, called Clarendons, appeared. The first Clarendon was designed by Robert Besley in 1845 as a bold text face to accompany a Modern-style roman type, the popular text face of the day. Clarendons remained popular for most of the 19th century, but went out of favor early in the 20th century.
IN the 1950s, an outbreak of expanded (wide) sans-serifs sparked-off a complementary wave of new wide slab serif faces. The revival of interest centered around the Clarendon style. Among the expanded Clarendons appearing at this time were Fortune (1955), which is also known as Volto, and New Clarendon (1960), by Monotype. A small sub group of this category – mock-typewriter faces are also included in this section.
The modern Clarendons are undoubtedly the most suitable designs for text setting because of their large x-height and the fluent horizontal flow created by their strong serifs. Available in a limited choice of weights and widths (but no italics), Clarendon’s robust design is particularly suitable for newspaper setting because it reproduces successfully on a low-quality newsprint.
The regularized geometric sans-serifs such as Rockwell, Glypha, and Serifa, which all have a good selection of weights, italics, and large x-heights, are best suited to limited text applications such as brochures and other jobbing work. ITC Lubalin Graph with its huge x-height and slight quirkiness, and the condensed Beton, with its long ascenders and peculiar lower case y, are less applicable for text setting, as is Stempel Schadow, which has a number of idiosyncratic features. Egyptian 505 is more regularized but has no italic, while Egyptienne, somewhat unusually, has a flowing italic (most other slab serifs have a slanted roman style of italic).

History of the World: What was happening when Serifa was created?  (1964)

            Serifa was created by Adrien Frutiger in the year 1964. In that same year, Jeopardy made its first television debut, The Beatles came to the United States on tour for the first time, the United States Air Force began Operation Yankee Team in the Vietnam War, Malcom X formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, The Soviet Union launched the Voskhod 1 into Earth’s orbit as the first spacecraft with a multi-person crew and the first flight without space suits, and American civil rights movement leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

-       The Complete Typographer, written by Christopher Perfect and Jeremy Austen
      -       Typographers on Type, edited by Ruari McLean