Friday, September 30, 2016

From the 70s: Autoroutes du Sud de la France

Anyone who has driven a car in France is familiar with their extensive system of toll roads. These are called ''autoroutes'' and include most motorways in the country. These are usually built and operated by companies that become highly visible to motorists as they pay the required tolls. One of the the largest autoroute operators is Autoroutes du Sud de la France (ASF, "Autoroutes in southern France"), which operates about 2,500 kilometers of motorways.

ASF was founded in 1957 as Autoroute de la Vallée du Rhône (SAVR), becoming Autoroutes du Sud de la France in 1973. This necessitated a new trademark, and one was commissioned from Adrian Frutiger's studio Atelier Frutiger. It was introduced at some point in the 1970s and nicely combines the curvatures of ramps joining a motorway to form the letter S. According to a contemporary book, it was designed by Brigitte Rousset, who was in Frutiger's employ.

ASFA mark.

Adrian Frutiger also designed this striking mark for Association des sociétés françaises d'autoroutes (ASFA), a joint organisation for the autoroute companies. It bears some resemblance to the ASF mark, but I don't know if they were designed concurrently as part of a joint project.

The S-way mark served the company for over three decades, combined with different wordmarks. ASF was a government-owned company until 2006 when it was sold to construction company Vinci. The mark was finally replaced in May 2009 by a simple modern lettermark. Eventually, the name ASF was dropped in favour of the corporate "Vinci Autoroutes" brand.

ASF logo from 2009.

Update 2019:, the online repository of Museum für Gestaltung Zürich /
Archiv Zürcher Hochschule der Künste has a great collection of Adrian Frutiger's work. This included some sketches for the Autoroutes du Sud mark.

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