Adrian Frutiger with his SOTA Typography Award

The SOTA Typography Award, presented each year since 2003, found its recipient for 2006 in the great Swiss designer, Adrian Frutiger. Mr Frutiger is a type designer par excellence, with the famous typefaces Univers, Frutiger, Avenir, and many others to his name. Remarkably he is still at work, helping Linotype rework and extend his designs for new audiences, maintaining his rational yet human approach.

In August 2006, SOTA Executive Director Tamye Riggs — along with SOTA board members Allan Haley and Laurence Penney — traveled to Bern, Switzerland to present the SOTA Typography Award to Mr Frutiger.

The award ceremony took place August 30th at the Museum für Kommunikation, just a few miles from Mr Frutiger’s home. Fritz Jenni, a former colleague from the Swiss Postal Service, for which he had done much design work since the 1960s, gave a warm speech. Otmar Hoefer and Akira Kobayashi spoke on behalf of Linotype, expressing great appreciation of Mr Frutiger’s efforts over the many decades of his association with that illustrious type foundry. Finally, Allan Haley spoke on behalf of the Society of Typographic Aficionados, and made the presentation. With his wife Simone looking on, Mr Frutiger accepted the specially-commissioned crystal goblet, paid kind thanks to SOTA, and posed for photographs.

Later that evening a banquet was held in Mr Frutiger’s honor in the mirrored Salon Casino at the Bellevue Palace hotel. We extend our sincere thanks to Linotype for generously sponsoring the dinner, and in particular to Nadine Chahine for its organization.

Adrian waves goodbye

Along with Adam Twardoch and Deb Gonet, we were delighted to be invited to his home studio in Bremgarten, a small town north of Bern. The drive there took us through magnificent countryside with fine views of the Alps and across the River Aare via a remarkable roofed, wooden bridge from 1535. Offering us far more than tea and biscuits, Mr Frutiger had prepared a compact autobiographical presentation, which he delivered to us in English with the aid of illustrations taken from some of his recent books on design. Afterwards we buzzed with questions to ask him, trying to make the most of the time available. Asked for more detail about the first occasion he presented the concept of Univers to Charles Peignot, he gave a moving account of the delight that came over his boss’s face — something new and wonderful was on its way! We left with signed books and memories of a supremely talented yet down-to-earth man.

Many, many thanks to the Frutigers for their generosity and for making us so welcome on this unforgettable visit.

Photos & Text by Laurence Penney