Birkhäuser Publishes The Complete Works of Adrian Frutiger

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News | Yves Peters | December 11, 2008

There is little doubt that this is the one. Arguably the most important type-related book of the decade has been released: Adrian Frutiger – Typefaces. The Complete Works.

Many people associate Adrian Frutiger with Univers, the typeface that made him internationally known towards the end of the nineteen-fifties. Today one encounters his typefaces daily and on a global scale – in print media, on deposit slips, in advertising, on packaging, on TV, on the internet and in public spaces. But even though much has already been written about the Swiss type designer and he himself also published regularly, his complete work is still not sufficiently known. Even experts have an incomplete knowledge regarding his creation of typefaces.

The book Adrian Frutiger – Typefaces. The Complete Works is based upon a close collaboration with Adrian Frutiger. In it one can find for the first time a complete and detailed essay on the design of typefaces and logos, including so-far unpublished or never-realised typefaces – from the design phase through the final drafting process to its realisation, from the idea to the marketing stage. The more than 50 typefaces and type designs are presented, explained and examined in chronological order on more than 460 richly illustrated pages.

Each typeface is critically assessed in interviews with Adrian Frutiger and placed within its context. These conversations are the basis for the main part of the book, besides the extensive research in specialised magazines, archives, libraries, museums and collections of several countries. Short, technical explanations offer background information on the relationship between the design and production of typefaces.

The concept of the book is aimed at an audience specialised in visual communication, typeface design, typography, graphics, advertisement, print production and architecture/signage – as well as the fields of type research and design at high schools and universities. The large selection of typefaces on personal computers also makes Adrian Frutiger’s accomplishments in type available to a wider audience. An examination of Adrian Frutiger’s typefaces therefore is also an increasingly important topic for an interested lay audience. In its completeness, objectivity, precision, diversity of illustrations and authenticity this book will doubtlessly become a standard in the field of typographic specialist literature.

The book features introductions by Kurt Weidemann and Adrian Frutiger himself. And the Table of Contents looks fingerlicking good (see below). In between sections there are chapters on the Production of type and Logos and wordmarks by Frutiger. The main content ends with a Synopsis of Frutiger-Typefaces.

Adrian Frutiger – Typefaces. The Complete Works
Heidrun Osterer, Philipp Stamm, Schweizerische Stiftung Schrift (Eds.)
462 pp. 430 colour, 620 b/w ills.
24,5 x 31,0 cm, clothbound
ISBN 978-3-7643-8581-1 English
ISBN 978-3-7643-8582-8 French
ISBN 978-3-7643-8576-7 German
© Birkhäuser

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  1. Its an excellent book, a must have, with new content.

    As we discovered in France earlier November, its not easy to buy directly from the publisher. It seems that its only possible via local books distributors. To be check depending where you are.

    Posted by Jean F Porchez on Dec. 12, 2008
  2. At last… an homage to a lifetime work. A must have.

    Posted by sandro lopes on Dec. 17, 2008
  3. Just a little plug: a large part of the book was translated from German into English by my son, Dylan Spiekermann. I was responsible for checking the accuracy of the translation, especially all the technical terms. We worked with Paul Shaw in New York who was both final copy editor for the English version and diligent researcher. I actually think that the English text is better than the German, because between us we made quite a few improvements that didn’t make it back into the original German text.

    Posted by erik on Dec. 21, 2008
  4. @JFP: Nijhof-Lee in Amsterdam ( does sell this great book. They even stock the French version for international customers.
    @Yves: In my opinion, there is no doubt that THIS is the one!

    Posted by Henk Gianotten on Dec. 21, 2008
  5. I couldn’t agree more: anybody with an interest in type and typography needs this book. Frutiger is the best type designer of the 20th century, so this shows more than just typefaces: it shows his attitude, his techniques and his methods.

    Posted by erik on Dec. 22, 2008
  6. For anyone in the UK, or specifically London, Magma sell this for exactly the same price as Amazon currently do. And it’s worth every single penny!

    Posted by Matt on Jan. 3, 2009
  7. Received my copy a few days ago, and have been immersed in it ever since. A lifetime in letters – for typophiles it reads like a diary. The combination of story and technique works very well.

    Posted by Bart on Jan. 8, 2009
  8. I received my copy just before the holidays, so I hope I’ll be able to post a review soon.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 8, 2009
  9. This is really a special book. I just got mine this week and have been reading it ever since. Hard not to really. The combination of the Frutiger’s own words, the authors and the many images I’ve never seen before, are worth more than any price you’ll pay for it.

    Posted by Eric Olson on Jan. 8, 2009
  10. Not to repeat what everyone else is saying, but I really can’t overstate how fantastic this book is.

    Posted by Christian Schwartz on Jan. 14, 2009
  11. i just got my copy! as far as i know it’s the only copy that was for sale in melbourne (where i live). every page i open teaches me soemthing, or inspires me. it’s a truly amazing book.

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Aug. 22, 2009
  12. I would like to know where to buy the book
    in the Los Angeles, California area.
    Would Hennessey & Ingalls of Santa Monica,
    California be a distributor?
    Please furnish a distributor in the Southern
    California area.
    Thank you, gary barsch.

    Posted by Gary Barsch on Jun. 13, 2011

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