Erik Spiekermann

Erik Spiekermann

Erik Spiekermann is a legendary German type designer and information architect. Besides he has published numerous books and articles on the subject of typography and other cultural issues for magazines.

Born on May 30, 1947, Erik Spiekermann grew up in Stadthagen, Germany. He received his formal art education from Free University of Berlin. He paid his tuitions by running a letterpress printing press in the basement of his residence. During 1970s he moved to London and spent an entire decade freelancing as a graphic designer and teaching. He freelanced for several consultancies including Filmcomposition and Wolff Olins and taught at the London College of Printing. In 1979, Spiekermann returned to Berlin and in partnership with two designers founded MetaDesign. The firm has its offices now in London and San Francisco as well. The studio aspired to combine teutonic-looking information design and complex corporate design systems. Some of the notable projects undertaken by the design studio for clients include Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda, Berlin Transit and Heidelberg Printing and served a number of other leading clients.

During late 1980s, Spiekermann with his significant other, Joan Spiekermann, launched the FontShop. It was the first mail-order producer and distributer of electronic fonts. The extension of the company by the name FontShop International was established that deals with publication of the FontFont range of typefaces. In addition to that Spiekermann received an honorary professorship at the Academy of Arts in Bremen. The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena awarded him an honorary doctorate for his valuable input into graphic design. He also holds membership on the board of the German Design Council. In 2001, he redesigned the British magazine The Economist. The following year he published his book on typeface, titled Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works, for Adobe Press. The book was later published in several other languages including Portuguese, German and Russian.

Spiekermann created and released corporate font family for Nokia which was met with huge praise. Later he collaborated with Christian Schwartz and introduced his typeface family for Deutsche Bahn (German Railways). In 2006, he was awarded the most prestigious German award, a Gold Medal at the German Federal Design Prize. The award jury declared Spiekermann’s new type system a masterpiece as it helped spread information culture in Germany. His typeface is characterized as displaying updated and refined brand image which made sure easier intake of information for customers. In 2001, Spiekermann gave his resignation to MetaDesign following a policy disagreement issue. Subsequently, he established a new firm named United Designers Networks which has offices in Berlin, San Francisco and London. In 2007, the firm was renamed SpiekermannPartners and two years later it was revised again as Edenspiekermann.

Moreover, Spiekermann offered his services as a professor at the University of the Arts, Bremen. Some of his seminal works such as commercial typefaces and corporate design programmes include Berliner Grotesk, ITC Officina Sans, Nokia Sans and FF Meta Serif. He designed Fira Sans for Firefox OS 2013 version in collaboration with Carois Type Design. Erik Spiekermann was inducted into the European Design Awards Hall of Fame and became the first designer to receive the honor. He was also one of the artists to sign and endorse the First Things First 2000 manifesto. He earned Lifetime achievement award from German Design Prize for his generous contribution to design industry. Also he made an appearance in a documentary film, entitled Helvetica.