With the publication “Hello, I am Erik”, the Berlin-based publisher Gestalten celebrates the work of influential typographer and designer Erik Spiekermann. The book thus demonstrates the huge societal relevance of typography and design.
Designer Erik Spiekermann is one of the best-known graphic designers in the world. He founded MetaDesign, FontShop and most recently Edenspiekermann. He is a self-confessed typomaniac, admitting: “Apparently I suffer from typomania – an incurable, but not lethal disease”. Like scarcely no other, he has shaped the visual of everyday life in Germany and elsewhere through his enthusiasm and dedication. If you want to see his work, all you have to do is jump on public transport in Berlin. As soon as you look at the passenger information systems or the yellow bus stops with their green and yellow logo, you are seeing the designer’s work. He is also responsible for corporate design programmes for automobile manufacturers Audi and VW, and has designed typefaces for German TV channel Zweite Deutsche Fernsehen (ZDF) as well as for Deutsche Bahn. He has also shaped the appearance of UK business magazine “The Economist”.
Alongside the classic Helvetica font, the FF Meta font developed by him was the most successful font of the 1990s and early 2000s – despite the unusual story of its creation. It was originally developed in the mid-1980s for Deutsche Bundespost, the German federal post office, which was looking for a new corporate design. But the Bundespost decided to keep Helvetica, and the new font stayed locked away. Nowadays FF Meta is used as the house font for the Mozilla Foundation, German public-broadcasting institution WDR and Heidelberg University among others. The font has also been included in the architecture and design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
A visually impressive, extensive presentation of work
These and numerous other examples are compiled in the visual biography “Hello, I am Erik”, published by Gestalten in 2014, which is the most comprehensive presentation of his work to date. Johannes Erler and his agency Factor Design are responsible for content and design. Erler is another of the leading names on the German design scene. This refined publication presents Spiekermann’s career, work and attitude as a typographer, designer and entrepreneur with numerous photos, documents, compositions, sketches and images of his work. Informative contributions and personal statements by respected colleagues round off the book, which is available in German and in English.
In an interview on the occasion of the book’s publication, Spiekermann revealed that he had one central caveat regarding the book’s design. This was that the “Real” font be used, which is a feature unique to this book. Font lovers in general and Spiekermann fans specifically will be even more delighted to hear that the Regular font comes free with each copy.
On the interface between the digital and the analogue worlds
Three years on from this presentation of his work, Erik Spiekermann has not tired of writing about his life as a designer. This is evidenced among other things by a book commissioned by Suhrkamp-Verlag and his digital-analogue print shop p98a. Together with design collective Süpergrüp, he is part of the “Suhrkamp Letterpress” project, which will involve redesigning and typesetting six works of world literature and printing them on an old book-printing machine using digitally exposed plates. This complex project is likely to appeal to book and design lovers alike. While the original Heidelberger cylinder that will be used for this book project is located in Berlin Adlershof, Spiekermann himself indulges his love of printing with his typographic workshop p98a. He has six proofing presses there as well as a nostalgic-looking Heidelberger jobbing press in order to allow people to experience typography hands-on, even in the digital age. With 323,000 followers on Twitter, Spiekermann has long since conquered the virtual space for ‘infecting’ others with his typomania.
Posted on 27.09.2017
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