Perry Harding: Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’

Interview with Perry Harding for the Baseline blog.

ISTD Student Assessment

I first heard about ISTD from previous year groups at UCA, but in much more detail when I was interning at Playne Design, where Clare Playne, who is a member of ISTD, and also one of the designers and the art director of the 2014 ISTD Awards Book, spoke to me about it and how it would benefit my practice.

Approach the subject – Adrian Frutiger

When I was researching for the project, I started by going down quite a literal route first. I wanted to get more of an overview of Adrian Frutiger’s life, both in terms of his design work and his personal life. I felt this would be a good way to start the research as I was always on the lookout for something that would potentially stand out and which I could then explore further in terms of a potential idea/concept.

Concept

The concept of my idea came about when I was looking at Frutiger’s typeface designs, and specifically, the Univers typeface family. The Univers typeface family stood out to me not only in terms of craftsmanship but also in the sheer scale in which it had been expanded. My concept concentrated specifically on the numbering system which Frutiger used to name the variants of Univers, looking at both the original cuts and the updated and extended version re-drawn by Frutiger and Linotype, with the first typeface being named number 39 and the last one being named 941. From this, I wanted to produce a publication that visually and physically represented this numbering system. To do this, the publication would have 941 pages – with a page representing every number from 1–941. The publication then displays the Univers typefaces extended family, where every time a Univers variant appears, it would be displayed on the correct page – for example, Univers 55 would be displayed on page 55, and so on. The typeface would be displayed in various point sizes, like a type specimen. All of the pages/page numbers that weren’t used by Univers would be blank, only displaying a page number. What I wanted from this was a publication that shows the sheer depth of variants that the font family encompasses, in a physical form.

Making a publication user-friendly

For the layout of the publication I used the Univers diagram as a basis for the gird, which can’t necessary be seen, but I feel it was needed as part of the concept. I also concentrated a lot on the binding of the book, especially as it had to be hand bound because of a large number of pages. I also hadn’t previously done that type of binding, especially with that amount of pages, and even though it was a challenge, I feel it still needed to be concentrated on to make the publication as user-friendly as possible.

A better understanding of the typeface

Researching Frutiger and his typefaces in such detail meant I learnt a lot about his work, especially in terms of the processes he went through when making type. Also, as he went through quite a lot of technological changes in his career, it was interesting to see how and what he did to adapt to the changing times. Looking closely at Univers, in particular, meant I now have a better understanding of the typeface, even across its large family. Looking at various binding techniques was also a good learning curve for me, especially taking a hands-on approach.

A personal achievement

Not passing didn’t deflate me too much, as I knew the areas in which I could have improved and could have explored more. I was also still pleased that I attempted the ISTD brief as I still got a good piece of work out of it.

Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.
Adrian Frutiger’s ‘Univers’. Perry Harding, 2016.

Perry Harding

University for the Creative Arts, Epsom
BA Graphic Design


About ISTD

International Society of Typographic Designers, ISTD, the professional body for typographers, graphic designers and educators.

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. Students who are successful in the scheme are offered membership of the Society.

Have your say