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Erik Spiekermann


TABLE OF CONTENTS Erik Spiekermann and the art of appropriation

beginnings process, process, process the many faces of Meta the birth of FontShop you cannot “not� communicate

Berlin Transit

communication// aesthetics


Spiekermann has worked for decades a typographic designer, beginning his career primarily in London and Berlin. Throughout this time, he has discovered simple, yet fascinating methods to designing type and better defining the line between influence andoriginality Though Spiekermann’s method for designing his own typefaces is fairly straightforward, his method for appropriation is slightly more intricate. He explains that when working for a client, he will sometimes come across a font that he likes, but needs refinement to fit the needs of a client. He then proceeds to study, draw, and sketch over the font until he is completely familiarized with it. Then, he puts the typeface away until the next day when he sits down to draw it from memory. By this process, an existing typeface gains the unique nuances of a designers personality and style without simply copying something already in existence.

O n t y p e d e s i g n , E r i k Sp i e k e r m a n n h a s s a i d “the main goal is not for something to be more aesthetically pleasing, but for communication to be more open.� This notion led his critical method of thinking while creating design systems for BVG, Berlin Transit, and the German Railways, Deutsche Bahn, for which he received a Gold Medal at the German Federal Design Prize in 2006. Spiekermann has worked for decades a typographic designer, beginning his career primarily in London and Berlin. Throughout this time, he has discovered simple, yet fascinating methods to designing type and better defining the line between influence and originality.


process process process “andIf II read a novel, rewrite it the

next day in my own language. It would be the same story, but it would be different words and have a slightly different feel about it; and this is how I am with typefaces.

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the many faces of

Meta

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Spiekermann even quoted FF Meta as being “Helvetica for the 90’s”. True or not, Spiekermann has built upon his career enough over the years to afford to make such statements. And though Meta has gained a sense of Helvetica-esque practicality, its goal to be a solution to chaos has not yet become entirely successful.

Meta’s original corporate purpose was to be a replacement for Helvetica in the German Postal Service, hopefully to end the confusion attached to the dozens of versions used in the organization. However, this ended with the client’s final decision to stick with Helvetica because the change would “cause too much unrest”. Despite this, Spiekermann continues to push forward with Meta with the goal of making the communication of information simple and effortless.


Font Shop Spiekermann began his work as a designer in the early 1970â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and in 1979, formed MetaDesign, Germanyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest design firm at the time with offices in Berlin, London and San Francisco. The name for his firm stemmed from Spiekermannâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most widely recognized typeface, FF Meta. With in this time, he worked on design programs for companies such as Audi, Volkswagen, Lexus and Heidelburg Printing. As the success of MetaDesign grew, in 1988 Spiekermann and his wife Joan started FontShop , a company that pioneered the production and distribution of electronic fonts. Along with FF Meta, Spiekermann also produced highly used typefaces such as ITC Officina, FF Unit and Berliner Grotesk, among others.


With a career spanning the length of over thirty years, and the 2011 German Design Lifetime Achievement Award under his belt, Spiekermann still feels there is an infinite amount of things he has yet to learn. He says that after years and years of learning, reading, practicing, and seeing, he still feels that his brain is empty. Not to mean that he has learned nothing, but that he only looks forward with anticipation to every new thing he will learn in the future.


YOU CANNOT “NOT” COMMUNICATE


Spiekermann epitomizes his philosophy with the motto You cannot not communicate.

“Every single solution has to focus in every small detail,” says Spiekermann, “while at the same time being seen as a part of a larger total.

Nothing is irrelevant: a picture chosen arbitrarily, sloppy printing, inappropriate choice of paper or messy typography can destroy even the most profound design concept.” Through this he aims to create order from chaos. As we are constantly bombarded with information, it is often difficult to determine which is actually important. With advertisements commanding us to “Look this way!” or to listen and react, we become lost in a sea of potentially useless information. Through Spiekermann’s method of information design, a subtle sense of order and harmony is the result. Type should exist not only for the purposes of aesthetics, but to make communication accessible and refined.


the Berlin Transit System


Spiekermann has been successful in many facets of type design, but exclaims that one of his greatest interests is improving things in the public domain. On this he says,

â&#x20AC;&#x153;When the design of information is left to chance, the result is information anxietyâ&#x20AC;?. This made Spiekermann a perfect fit for previous projects, especially the Berlin Transit System.



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