Avenir vs. Avenir Next

cpalmieri's picture

I haven't be able to find a comprehensive review of Avenir Next online. Has anyone used it in a design project juicy enough to give it a run down vs. the old Avenir?

On screen via the website (not the best test I know),
* the jump from UltraLight to Regular seems extreme (with no Light in between)
* the Heavy (which looks much heavier than Avenir Black), seems to have lost a little neutrality of personality, esp. in the lowercase

The small caps and new italics sound nice, but without the choice to buy individual weights, it seems pretty scary to drop USD 1200 on an update that almost seems more geared towards print designers (where the new weight distribution, condensed and s.c. probably come in handy). (I design mostly websites).

Any impressions would be appreciated.

poms's picture

Did you ask your questions directly at linotype?
I'm very interested in their answers too.
What would be perfect – a massive PDF visualising all weights and all styles, that i can print out and compare it to the old Avenir. Once i searched for this, but i haven't found one. Dan (Reynolds), please help us :)

What i find interesting in Avenir Next are especially the condensed weights. Not so much interest in italics and OSF.

cpalmieri's picture

I haven't asked direct to Linotype. I guess that would be a good way to get some of these details, but I'm also hoping for an "unwashed" opinion.

Dan Gayle's picture

I do not like the idea of "real" italics for Avenir or any of the Linotype revamps. If Frutiger had wanted it originally, why didn't he do it then? It's not like he couldn't have done it. It seems like a marketing ploy of dubious value to me.

dan_reynolds's picture

We do not have a PDF available at the moment, but quite a lot of this is discussed in the Avenir Next brochure, which we give away at most design conferences we attend.

Dan, creating individual fonts used to be very expensive, much more than it is today. Frutiger used obliques to save money. This was a big deal back in the day, especially when one remembers that Frutiger designed a lot of big families. Now that font production can be done by one or two people instead of 100 or 200 people, the situation has changed. Note that Avenir Next also has small caps and oldstyle figures (AF was directly involved in the OsF design, as can be seen in the brochure).

poms's picture

@Dan Reynolds

What i wanna know is, do Avenir Next condensed weights match the 6 weights, i know from Avenir. Perfect would be that the condensed weights of Avenir Next would work properly with Avenir ("the impression of ONE face")

Is there s.th. like a "side by side" comparision of the fonts in this brochure? If so, where can i buy/get this brochure?


Dan Gayle's picture

Avenir came out in 1988, so I don't buy your expense argument at all. And it wasn't anywhere near as large as Univers when it came out.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Fonts were more expensive to create even 20 years ago.

cpalmieri's picture


I can't speak for Linotype, but I imagine that they would match the weights of Avenir Next, not Avenir, since they are sold as part of Avenir Next.

Avenir Next weights appear to be completely different than the original Avenir. The boldest weights are bolder, the lightest much lighter.

dan_reynolds's picture

>What i wanna know is, do Avenir Next condensed weights match the 6 weights, i know from Avenir. Perfect would be that the condensed weights of Avenir Next would work properly with Avenir (“the impression of ONE face”)<

No. Avenir Next Condensed matches Avenir Next.

Dan, sorry, type was incredibly expensive in 1988. While the hostility? :(
Much of the type was still created by hand at Linotype back then (hand drawings were made, which were then hand digitized). Dozens of people worked on the design of a single font. Very expensive, and not at all like today.

Even if it was not that much more expensive to create a real italic than an oblique, Frutiger thought that it was. And it is the thought that counts ;-)

Plus, a designers intentions change over time. Hermann Zapf is directly involved in the design of his fonts, even the new ones… character by character. Some of the decisions he makes now might be different from those of 40 years ago, or even 15 years ago. Everyone learns with experience, even the best. They just keep getting better, I guess. Who knows?

dan_reynolds's picture

>Avenir Next weights appear to be completely different than the original Avenir. The boldest weights are bolder, the lightest much lighter.<

This is also explained in the brochure. Akira wanted to make the family more robust, more able to tackle all sorts of advertising design problems. Like Futura can. Think of Futura's different weights. This is also where Akira sought for the idea behind suggesting a condensed version.

cpalmieri's picture

Hmm, I wish I had that brochure!

I think the lack of online information about Avenir Next highlights a need for more online marketing prowess by type foundries. Some are of course doing this really well, but there is a lot of room for improvement.

Playing the role of the selfish consumer, why should I fly to an expensive design conference to get sales materials for a product I might buy several times a year for the rest of my career? Shouldn't the seller bring this info to me where I am? Online test-drives and pdf specimens are a start, but might not be enough to push a lot of designers over the edge to purchase the font.

For a redesign like Avenir Next, just a few hours in Photoshop could produce informative graphics that show what's changed and why it's an improvement. A simple online gallery could house hundreds of photos of the font being put to the test in actual design work (Underware does a great job with this), with little effort from the foundry (after the initial web development).

Don't mean to sound preachy, but as a fan and consumer of type, I see a lot of potential to make buying type feel less like a leap of faith and more like a confident, informed decision.

dan_reynolds's picture

>Hmm, I wish I had that brochure!

Have you emailed to ask for one? My colleagues and I try to be very friendly, even if our website does not answer all of your questions on this matter. We try to make it as inclusive as we can. If you contact me offlist (dreynolds [äat] linotype [dott] com or type [dott] nerd [äat] gmail [dott] com), I'll get you a copy of the brochure.

cpalmieri's picture

Thanks Dan,

You've been patient and friendly with answering questions, and I'm sorry my comments came off as insensitive.

dan_reynolds's picture

No problem! I hope that you can find the right answers to your questions!

Florian Hardwig's picture

Though this is actually not about Avenir Next, but about Frutiger Next, it yet might be of interest as it sheds some light on the question of Adrian Frutiger’s attitude towards ‘real italics’:

Jürgen Siebert wrote on August 24, 2005 [Fontblog.de]:
Bei den Kursiven sprang Frutiger über seinen Schatten – oder wurde er geschubst? Die Fachwelt kennt seine Vorliebe für technisch schräg gestellte Sansserifs, die er auch bei der Überarbeitung der Univers durchgesetzt hatte. Doch bei der Frutiger Next ließ er sich zu einer klassischen Kursiven überreden, mit eigenen Formen für a, g und f. Keine Frage: der Frutiger Next steht dieses Ideal einer Kursiven ausgezeichnet.

Regarding the italics, Frutiger swallowed his pride – or was he gently pushed? His preference for technically slanted sans-serifs is well known among experts, and he asserted this position when Univers was revised, too. However, with Frutiger Next he was talked into classic italics, with proper forms for a, g and f. No doubt about it: This ideal of an italic perfectly suits Frutiger Next.

Ingo Preuß also wrote about Frutiger Next on Typeforum.de and added a reply he received from Bruno Steinert, then director of Linotype, dated on February 23, 2006:

Die Idee zur Frutiger Next enstand in einem Gespräch zwischen Herrn Frutiger, unserem damaligen künstlerischen Leiter, Herrn Professor Reinhard Haus, unserem Marketing-Leiter Otmar Hoefer und mir als Geschäftsführer der Linotype. […] das Konzept einer echten Kursiv und der neuen Formen für die Buchstaben “a“ und “f“ kam von unserem Marketing.

The idea for Frutiger Next arose during a talk Mr. Frutiger had with our then art director Prof. Reinhard Haus, our marketing director Otmar Hoefer and me as the CEO of Linotype. […] the concept for real italics and new designs of the letters ‘a’ and ‘f’ is penned by our marketing.

[Translation by me, no guarantee for 100% correct phrasing]

William Berkson's picture

In this thread J-F Porchez slams Frutiger Next (not Avenir Next).

dylan's picture

I snatched up Avenir Next as soon as it came out. Bought through the company (I worked for at that time) to rebrand a drug called Prevacid. I think we ended up buying 30 + seats before we were done with that work.

Anyway, loved working with the Avenir Next family. Well worth the investment. Can't imagine going 'back' to plain ol' Avenir.



Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

cpalmieri's picture


Can you tell me a little more about what kind of work you applied it to, and why you felt it was superior to the old Avenir?

dylan's picture

We used it to rebrand a drug called Prevacid. The previous firm had let the typography standards get blown to bits, so we eventually decided that the only salvageable equity was to be found in some previous work that used Avenir. And Avenir Next had just been released, so the timing was terrific.

Once we got the thumbs up to proceed with Avenir Next, we used it across a wide variety of materials: sales aids, magazine ads, coupons, etc.

Because we were developing materials for pharmaceuticals, we needed a robust type family that would allow us options across these materials, especially when the "fine print" was involved. Having Avenir Next's condensed weights at our disposal was key to aiding our efforts.

On a totally unrelated note, will we be able to be notified via email when new posts are made to the Typophile forums? Am I beating a dead horse?

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

Reed Reibstein's picture

This thread is long gone, but now that the book on Frutiger's typefaces has been released, that is almost certainly the best source of information on Avenir (and says a good amount about Avenir Next).

Some of the fascinating revelations as related by Frutiger are that he meticulously worked each letter to make optical adjustments as minimal as possible, he approved of Avenir Next (calling it "so perfect," though he would not have approved of the project if the market demand for a broader selection of weights had not existed), and it was his proudest achievement as a type designer.

"Univers was a striking idea, as was Frutiger, but in Avenir there's a harmony that's much more subtle than in the others. When a letter shape really works, when you can say 'that's it' -- that really is a joy. And the joy is greater with Avenir than with Univers. ... The quality of the draughtsmanship in Avenir -- rather than the intellectual idea behind it -- is my masterpiece. To draw in all those nuances, so fine that you can hardly see them, but you know they're there, that really sapped my strength. It was the hardest typeface that I have worked on in my life. ... I'm proud I was able to create Avenir."

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