The Univers® typeface family is one of the most prolific grotesque sans-serif typefaces of the century. Like Helvetica®, Univers is based on 1898‘s Akzidenz-Grotesk. However, Univers is unique in that the design lacks superfluous features of any type, creating a design that is versatile and distinctive without being obstrusive. Adrian Frutiger began work on Univers in 1954, completing his design in 1957. The Univers type family has grown to 44 different weights and styles, some of which include Cyrillic characters.
A very important aspect of the Univers family is its modularity. Frutiger wanted to create a series of related designs that were absolutely harmonious with each other. This could only be accomplished by determining the complete family range as part of the design process or by building the family within a strict modular framework. Frutiger did both.
Frutiger has continued to improve and expand the Univers family, working with Linotype designers to add new weights and enlarging the character set to include many languages such as Greek, Cyrillic and Arabic. The final iteration of the family, Univers Next – a complete upgrading of the design – was released in 2010.
Univers has been employed in numerous applications including corporate branding, signage, maps, standardized testing and consumer electronics devices. Apple used Univers on its laptop keyboards until switching to the VAG Rounded™ typeface in 2007. Univers is used in tandem with Frutiger in the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, as well as being the primary typeface used by Germany‘s Frankfurt International Airport and the Montreal Metro System. Rand McNally used Univers to label maps and atlases before switching to the Frutiger® design in 2004. Univers is used on tests and exams in the UK, preferred for the clear distinction between similar characters such as I and 1.