Erik Spiekermann’s Profile
Erik Spiekermann, born in 1947, studied Art History and English at the Free University of Berlin. He is an information architect, type designer (FF Meta, ITC Officina, FF Info, FF Unit, LoType, and Berliner Grotesk plus many exclusive corporate typefaces), and the author of books, articles, and regularly appearing columns on type, typography, and other cultural issues for magazines such as Blueprint in the UK and Form in Germany.
After spending the 1970s in London, teaching at the London College of Printing, and working for Filmcomposition, Wolff Olins, and other consultancies, he returned to Berlin in 1979 and started MetaDesign, Germany’s largest design firm, with offices in Berlin, London, and San Francisco. Projects included corporate design programs for Audi, Skoda, Volkswagen, Heidelberg Printing, Berlin Transit, The City of Berlin, Düsseldorf Airport, and many other clients. In 1988 he started FontShop, a company for the production and distribution of electronic fonts. He holds an honorary professorship at the Academy of Arts in Bremen, is a board member of the German Design Council, and past president of the International Society of Typographic Designers as well as the International Institute for Information Design. In 2003 he received the Gerrit Noordzij Award from the Royal Academy in The Hague and an honorary doctorate from the Pasadena Art Center. He is Honorary Royal Designer for Industry in Britain. In 2009 he was Ambassador for the European Year of Creativity and Innovation for the European Union.
In 2001, Spiekermann redesigned the magazine The Economist (London). His book for Adobe Press, Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works, was issued in a second edition in 2002, as well as in German, Russian, and Portuguese versions. About his FontBook (with Mai-Linh Thi Truong and Jürgen Siebert), issued in its fourth edition in 2006, he says: “If I do say so myself—I helped compile and design it—it’s the largest and best-researched printed compendium of digital type. I use it every day.” His corporate font family for Nokia was released in 2002 and a large system of exclusive typefaces for Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) was introduced in 2005. DB Type was awarded the 2006 Gold Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany. The award jury praised the company’s new type system as a “masterpiece to further information culture in Germany,” saying that the type system enables both an “updated, refined brand image” as well as “easier intake of information for customers, due to the different usage of the many weights, from signage to advertising.” Its “excellent functionality and refined appearance are a welcome improvement to everyday German culture.”
Spiekermann left MetaDesign in 2001 over policy disagreements and started SpiekermannPartners with offices in Berlin, London, and San Francisco. Clients include Bosch, Deutsche Bahn, The Economist, Pioneer Investment, Cisco Systems, Gravis, Messe Frankfurt, Nokia, ZDF German TV, Berlin Philharmonic, The American Academy Berlin, Tcho Chocolate San Francisco, and Birkhäuser Verlag Basel.
SpiekermannPartners merged with Eden Design in Amsterdam in 2009 and the combined company is now called Edenspiekermann.
In June 2011, Erik Spiekermann received the 25th Type Directors Club Medal, given to those who have made significant contributions to the life, art, and craft of typography. He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011 from the German Design Council, the highest design award in Germany.