Avenir was designed to be readable. The name “Avenir” is the French word for “future,” and Avenir was typeface designer Adrian Frutiger’s response to Futura, the most successful “geometrical” or “constructivist” typeface of the 20th century. Like Futura, Avenir appears at first glance to be built out of pure geometric shapes, with every line the same thickness, but in fact it has all been subtly worked by the designer to be comfortable to read and familiar to the eye. It suggests geometry without being rigid.
One of the things that makes Avenir work in body text is its loose character spacing. Frutiger felt that any text face needs to be spaced very carefully, “like trees in a forest that need space so that they can breathe.”
The simplicity of the geometrical style makes Avenir a strong voice in headlines and labels and charts, and the eight weights of the family provide a range of tools for getting just the right contrast between different elements on the page or on the screen.