Name: Avenir Next World
Designers: Adrian Frutiger, Akira Kobayashi, Yanek Iontef, Nadine Chahine, Toshi Omagari, Akaki Razmadze, Elena Papassissa and Anuthin Wongsunkakon.
Release Date: January 2021
Back Story: Essentially, Avenir Next World is an expansion of Avenir, a system font that needs little in the way of introduction. Adrian Frutiger designed the original in 1988, and worked with the team on Avenir Next World, which launched in early 2021. Avenir was designed to be “a linear sans in the tradition of Erbar and Futura” but created with the “experience and stylistic developments of the 20th Century,” Frutiger said in a Linotype interview.
Monotype’s creative type director, Akira Kobayashi, had previously worked alongside Frutiger to bring Avenir Next to life in 2002. That iteration modernized the family and updated its technical standard so brands could successfully use it across print applications and on emerging digital platforms. Now, 19 years on, Avenir Next World pushes the font even further, as brands operate on a more global level and require their identities to be consistent across more languages and lettering outside of the usual Roman forms.
In 2019, Monotype began working with experts in Hebrew, Arabic, Vietnamese, Georgian, Armenian, and Thai scripts. Kobayashi worked on the project (Frutiger passed away in 2015), as well as designers Yanek Iontef, Nadine Chahine, Toshi Omagari, Akaki Razmadze, Elena Papassissa, Anuthin Wongsunkakon and the Monotype Studio. “I felt my task was enormous, but our worldwide network of designers who are real experts in their local script helped me to accomplish this,” says Kobayashi. “I often asked questions and discussed about design details of glyphs with which I was not familiar, and I enjoyed trying to learn from them.” Monotype added thousands of new characters, but the existing Avenir Next glyphs remained unchanged. “Avenir Next has always been one of the most popular typefaces in our library, and there was a high demand for global language extension to support this popularity,” he says.
Updates to the classics have been something of a hot typographic topic recently. Over the past two years the Monotype Studio has released Helvetica Now and Futura Now, which were “re-imaginations of those iconic typefaces,” as the studio puts it, “redrawn and extended to future-proof the typefaces for how we work today.” The studio also extended global language support with Neue Frutiger World in 2018. “Brands cannot operate in a single region,” Monotype says. “How we expect brands and organizations to communicate across countries and continents seamlessly means they need a typeface system to support them to do this.”
Why’s it called Avenir Next World? It’s Avenir, but more global. The font has expanded into more than 150 global languages and scripts, including Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Georgian, Armenian, and Thai.
What are its distinguishing features? Avenir Next World contains 10 weights, from UltraLight to Heavy, as well as two entirely new styles: Avenir Next World Black and Avenir Next World Extra Bold. “The complete family enables a geometric sans pairing option for global brands looking to design consistently beyond borders, an imperative in an increasingly digital marketplace,” says Monotype.
Its simple geometric shapes make for a versatile font that can be used across many applications; while legibility is increased by long ascenders and descenders—a boon to Akaki Razmadze, who led the development of the Georgian character set, since these “fit well within the proportions of Georgian characters.”
Yanek Iontef, who led development on the Hebrew character set, says that until Avenir New World, “a Hebrew geometric model that is as classic as Avenir simply didn’t exist.” As such, in a few characters a more “humanistic” touch softens the geometry. “It was always about finding the sweet spot that makes the proportions, weight, and texture as close as possible, without overriding any unwritten rule that would make the Hebrew look unnatural, or ‘Latinized’,” says the designer.
In creating the Armenian character set, Elena Papassissa says she looked to Robert Granjon’s Armenian type and “other fonts used by the Mekhitarists in Venice in the 19th Century.” A key consideration was the fact that Armenian readers have a preference for upright rather than slanted typefaces, she adds; though legibility and modernity were the main goals with the font.
What should it be used for? The plain-speaking neutrality of Avenir Next World means that it’s great for words that need to be read—the forms of the letters won’t distract from the message. Suitable for body copy and longer brand texts, Monotype recommends its use for products and brands “with a clean and open image.”
Kobayashi says Avenir Next World is best utilized in places where multiple languages are present but require a consistent visual identity, such as convention halls, bus terminals, railway stations, and international airports. “In those places, the written information on signs should be legible even under non-ideal conditions, of course, but it also has to look uncomplicated and harmonious,” says Kobayashi. “That’s where the Avenir Next World performs its function without getting in viewer’s way.” The theory already proves out—airports including Hong Kong and Dublin have already been using Avenir for around a decade.
What typefaces do you like to pair it with? Since it’s so neutral, there’s not much that Avenir Next World wouldn’t work with. Kobayashi suggests it pairs especially well with Neoclassicist serif types such as Bodoni, Didot and Walbaum.