Univers (French pronunciation: [ynivɛʁ]) is the name of a large sans-serif typeface family designed by Adrian Frutiger and released by his employer Deberny & Peignot in 1957. Classified as a neo-grotesque sans-serif, one based on the model of nineteenth-century German typefaces such as Akzidenz-Grotesk, it was notable for its availability from the moment of its launch in a comprehensive range of weights and widths. The original marketing for Univers deliberately referenced the periodic table to emphasise its scope.
Univers was one of the first typeface families to fulfil the idea that a typeface should form a family of consistent, related designs. Past sans-serif designs such as Gill Sans had much greater differences between weights, while loose families such as American Type Founders’ Franklin Gothic family often were advertised under different names for each style, to emphasise that they were not completely matching.
By creating a matched range of styles and weights, Univers allowed documents to be created in one consistent typeface for all text, making it easier to artistically set documents in sans-serif type. This matched the desire among practitioners of the “Swiss style” of typography for neutral sans-serif typefaces avoiding artistic excesses.
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