Like a sweet-and-salty confection, the Avenir® Next Rounded suite of typefaces combines two distinct but complementary concepts into a single appealing design. Designed by Akira Kobayashi, it is the third generation of Adrian Frutiger’s Avenir typeface, which will celebrate its twenty-fifth birthday in 2013.
Avenir Next Rounded History
Avenir Next, designed by Adrian Frutiger and Akira Kobayashi, is a modern interpretation of geometric sans serif letterforms. While the appearance of strict mathematical shapes is softened somewhat in the typeface, Avenir Next is a constructed design in the tradition of the Futura and ITC Avant Garde Gothic typefaces.
Kobayashi, however, also saw the potential for a softer interpretation of the Avenir Next characters. The rounded terminals he incorporated into his new design – far from clashing with the structured characteristics of Avenir Next – infused it with a more complex and affable quality.
Linotype announced Adrian Frutiger’s Avenir in 1988. Several years in the making, the design reflected Frutiger’s love of linear symbols. The immediately successful family was the embodiment of the designer’s new interpretation of classic geometric sans serif typestyles. Avenir offered designs with subtle weight graduations from light to black, with the black being comparable to the bold or semi bold weights in other sans serif typefaces.
In the spring of 2001, Akira Kobayashi was engaged as Type Director for the Linotype Library. One of his first projects was to work with Adrian Frutiger on a complete reworking of the Avenir typeface family. The resulting design was named Avenir Next, and it incorporated improved family weight increments – in addition to matching condensed versions. Frutiger and Kobayashi also designed small caps and old style figures for all 24 typefaces in the family.
Several years later Kobayashi decided to take the design to another level, with the creation of Avenir Next Rounded. “I did some initial tests and found that the lightest and boldest weights of the family – along with the condensed designs – would not be conducive to the softening of stroke endings,” said Kobayashi. “However, the interior weights responded beautifully, adding a new dimension to the design.”
About the Designer
Early in his career, Kobayashi drew original typefaces for the likes of Adobe, ITC, FontFont, Linotype and TypeBox. When he joined Linotype, his first projects were collaborations with Adrian Frutiger and Hermann Zapf in the modernization and re-issuing of their earlier designs.
Kobayashi’s skill and design sensitivity contributed to the success of these new typefaces, and his creative prowess had a profound influence on the designs. After his initial projects with Frutiger and Zapf, Kobayashi began working on new and original typeface families.
One was the Akko™ family. “My initial idea was to create a sans serif type with a ‘soft-focus’ effect,” recalled Kobayashi. “From here, the design evolved into two families, the robust and structured sans serif Akko and the soft and friendly Akko Rounded.” “I have always liked rounded character forms,” he added.
“When I was young, I would see them all the time in Kanji signage and lettering.” Avenir Next Rounded is a natural extension of Kobayashi’s love of soft, friendly letters.
The Avenir Next Rounded family is available in four weights ranging from regular to bold – each with complementary Italics. The family is available as a suite of OpenType™ Pro fonts, allowing for the automatic insertion of small caps, ligatures and alternate characters. Pro fonts also offer an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.
While not intended for lengthy blocks of text copy, Avenir Next Rounded has a wide and deep range of uses at larger sizes, from wordmarks and branding to headlines and signage. At substantial sizes, especially in the bolder weights, the design communicates with gracious authority.
Its distinctive character shapes and proportions make for a design that does not overpower the message and draws the reader in. At smaller sizes, Avenir Next Rounded remains genial – as well as legible – thanks to the design’s large x-height, open counters and simple character shapes.