Case Study | Die Zeit The Challenge: No amount of preparation could ever be enough to tackle this weekly German icon of intellectual journalism, a newspaper that included on its board of directors Marion Gräfin Dönhoff, one of the most distinguished woman journalists of the twentieth century, as well as former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, plus dozens of extremely bright and opinionated editors. We did eleven different sets of sketches during the twenty-one months that the project lasted. The first draft was not considered elegant enough: photographs were too big, and some sections were too much like “those British Sunday magazines.” The next draft was too colorful. Then there was the version that emphasized illustrations, and the version that introduced a colorful promo bar. I still can hear the resounding:“Take it away, this is not us, not now, not ever.”
What we did: After multiple failed design proposals, we decided that a workshop setting, with key editors sitting down with us to “sketch” the paper would be ideal. My designer, Foster Barnes, and I set up shop in a room with two Macintosh computers, a printer, and a screen. Sketches with headlines and text came to life on the screen, the editors commented, and, by the end of the first day, the new Die Zeit was emerging.