I AMsterdam in Avenir

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use | Stephen Coles | November 4, 2005

Photo by Mieke Tacken. See more photos of I amsterdam on Flickr.

As much as I’d like to claim we’re the only group to think of it, there is more than one “I Am” campaign. Adidas and Reebok have both used the phrase in recent marketing. (That’s everyone’s favorite blackletter, Fette Fraktur, in the Reebok ads.)

But my favorite “I am” (other than our own of course) is the city of Amsterdam’s decidedly typographic public art installation, “I amsterdam”, set in 10 pt.ft. Avenir. The piece coincides with a new motto and website for the Netherlands capital’s tourism campaign and it works beautifully. The only quibble might be that a country with such a rich type culture ought to use a Dutch face rather than something born in Switzerland. Yet Frutiger‘s sans works so well it’s hard to complain.


  1. Yet Frutiger’s sans works so well it’s hard to complain.

    Interesting how they had to add serifs to the cap I, lest passers-by confuse it with a piece of street furniture. BTW: Avenir is the typeface for the city’s corporate design programme, developed by EDEN, formerly BRS Premsela Vonk.

    I also like the a_m ligature needed for stability as much as legibility.

    Posted by erik spiekermann on Nov. 5, 2005
  2. Well, being born and raised in asmterdam, i just had to have a say in this!

    This whole campaign (by KesselsKramer) was such a sign of weakness, on all levels. The slogan (besides being stupid) was nicked from an artist that used it on a series of postcards some three years ago, that were freely distributed all over the city. about the logo: the i got serifs, the a and m had to be connected, otherwise people would not be able to understand the pun (i am – amsterdam).

    In the light of recent social and political developments in amsterdam it is just so pitiful to see this project used by the city counsel to create a feeling of unity among its inhabitants. how superficial can you get? i guess it only made KesselsKramer happy! – Donald Beekman

    Posted by donald on Nov. 7, 2005
  3. Take a look at an example of public *art using typography that is absolutely hideous. It’s only forgivable because it’s brown and blends in to the landscape (somewhat).

    * Art because it certainly isn’t trying to be wayfinding or signage.

    Posted by Joe Pemberton on Dec. 4, 2005
  4. Wow, how clever, not really. Why do the a & m connect?

    Posted by Brian Weck on Dec. 5, 2011
  5. Hey guys, i would like to get your opinion on the “ONLYLYON” letters in lyon. Do you think they are any better, apart from being an obvious copy of amsterdam’s letters?


    Posted by David on Mar. 11, 2014

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