2010 Gert Dumbar

Born in 1940, he studied painting and graphic design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague, and in the post graduate graphic design program at the Royal College of Art in London.

In 1977 Gert Dumbar established Studio Dumbar. With his team at Studio Dumbar he completed numerous extensive corporate identity programs for many major national and international clients including: the Dutch Postal and Telecom Services (PTT), the ANWB (Dutch Automobile Association), the Dutch Railways, the Dutch Police, the Danish Post (together with Kontrapunkt a/s, Danmark) and the Czech Telecom. Since 1980 he has periodically taught and lectured at various universities around the globe (among them the Royal College of Art in London, the university at Bandung, Indonesia and the Hochschule der Bildenden Kunste Saar in Saarbrucken, Germany).

He has been the chairman of the Dutch association of Graphic Designers (BNO), the president of British Designers and Art Directors Association and was a member of the Designboard of the British Rail Company until 1994. In 1994 the Asociacion de Disenadores Graficos de Buenos Aires (ADG) appointed Gert Dumbar to be a Honorary Member and in 1995 the English Southampton Institute honoured Gert Dumbar with the title of Honorary Doctor in Design.

Gert Dumbar is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI).

2009 Adrian Frutiger

Adrian Frutiger’s acceptance speech for the ED-Awards ceremony in Zürich 2009: Link to YouTube.

Adrian Frutiger (born May 24, 1928) is one of the prominent typeface designers of the twentieth century, who continues influencing the direction of digital typography in the twenty-first century; he is best known for creating the typefaces Univers and Frutiger.

At the age of sixteen, he was apprenticed four years, as a compositor, to the printer Otto Schaerffli in Interlaken; between 1949 and 1951 he studied under Walter Käch and Alfred Willimann in the Kunstgewerbeschule (school of applied arts) in Zürich, where students studied monumental inscriptions from Roman forum rubbings. At the Kunstgewerbeschule, Frutiger primarily concentrated on calligraphy — a craft favouring the nib and the brush, instead of drafting tools.

His first commercial typeface was Président — a set of titling capital letters with small, bracketed serifs, released in 1954. Later that year the Deberny & Peignot type foundry wanted to add a linear sans serif antiqua in serveral weights to the range of the Lumitype-fonts. Adrian Frutiger suggested refraining from adapting an existing alphabet and instead to develop a new font that would, above all, be suitable for the typesetting of longer texts. Using his old sketches from the School for the Applied Arts, he created Univers font, which was published in 1957.

In the 1970s, the French airport authority’s commissioning a “way-finding signage” alphabet for the new Charles de Gaulle International Airport in the Roissy suburb of Paris. Frutiger considered adapting Univers, but decided it was dated as too-Sixties. The resultant typeface, originally titled Roissy, the typeface was renamed Frutiger when released it for public use in 1976.

In the late 1990s, Frutiger began collaborating on refining and expanding the Univers, Frutiger, and Avenir, in addressing hinting for screen display. Univers was reissued with sixty-three variants; Frutiger was reissued as Frutiger Next with true italic and additional weights. Adrian Frutiger’s career and typeface development spans the hot metal, phototypesetting, and digital typesetting eras. Currently, he lives near Bern.


2008 Javier Mariscal

He started studying design at the Elisava School in Barcelona which he soon left so that he could learn directly in his environment and follow his own creative impulses. His first steps were in the world of underground comic, a task that he soon combined with illustration, sculpture, graphic design and interior design.

In 1979, he designed the Bar Cel Ona logo, a work that would make him popular. The following year, he opened the first bar in Valencia designed by Mariscal, together with Fernando Salas, the Duplex, for which he designed one of his most famous pieces, the Duplex stool, an authentic icon of the 1980s. In 1987, he gave an exhibition at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris and participated in the Documenta de Kassel.

In 1989 he establishes the Estudio Mariscal. During the same year, Cobi was chosen as the mascot for the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games. The mascot was the centre of great controversy because of its vanguard image, although time has shown its creator to have been right and now Cobi is recognised as the most profitable mascot in the history of the modern games.

His most notable works include the visual identities for the Swedish socialist party, Socialdemokraterna; the Spanish radio station Onda Cero; Barcelona Zoo; the University of Valencia; the Lighthouse Centre for Architecture and Design in Glasgow, the GranShip Cultural Centre in Japan and the London postproduction company, Framestore.

In 1999 he receives the National Prize of Design that the Spanish Departament of Industry and the foundation BCD grants in recognition of the whole professional career.

2007 Erik Spiekermann

The European Design Hall of Fame winner 2007

Prof. Dr. h.c. Erik Spiekermann (*1947) studied History of Art and English in Berlin. He is information architect, type designer (ff Meta, itc Officina, ff Info, ff Unit, LoType, Berliner Grotesk et al) and author of books and articles on type and typography.

He was founder (1979) of MetaDesign, Germany’s largest design firm with offices in Berlin, London and San Francisco. Projects included corporate design programmes for Audi, Skoda, Volkswagen, Lexus, Heidelberg Printing, Berlin Transit, Duesseldorf Airport and many others. In 1988 he started FontShop, a company for production and distribution of electronic fonts.

He holds an honorary professorship at the Academy of Arts in Bremen, is board member of ATypI and the German Design Council and Past President of the istd International Society of Typographic Designers as well as the iiid International Institute of Information Design. In 2003 he was awarded the Gerrit Noordzij Prize for Typography from the Royal Academy in The Hague, Netherlands. In 2006 received an honorary doctorship from Pasadena Art Center.

In 2001 he redesigned The Economist magazine in London. His book for Adobe Press,“Stop Stealing Sheep” has recently appeared in a second edition and both a German and a Russian version. His corporate font family for Nokia was released in 2002. The exclusive family of typefaces for Deutsche Bahn (the German railway system), designed with Christan Schwartz, was awarded the Federal German Design Prize 2007.

He left MetaDesign in 2001 and now runs SpiekermannPartners with offices in Berlin, London and San Francisco. Clients include Bosch, Deutsche Bahn, Pioneer Investment, Messe Frankfurt, Nokia, Birkhäuser Verlag Basel and many others.

Interview by Frederico Duarte

  • Q: You have just received the 2007 European Designer Hall of Fame Award. This is not your first award, but the fact you have been nominated by your peers from all over the continent must have a special meaning. What does it mean, to you, to have received this accolade?
  • A: Getting the vote from the readers of professional design magazines means a lot. It shows me that design is, indeed, an international language. And it proves that there is a design community which knows who has been doing what for quite a few years.
  • Q: Stefan Sagmeister once said a famous graphic designer is like a famous electrician. Merit and fame are still only recognised inside their milieu. Rarely the general public, or even mainstream media, pay real attention to the discipline and to its practitioners. Your open criticism of the UEFA 2006 World Cup put you briefly in the German “public eye”, but despite your considerable work in your country and beyond, you are still to become “a household name”. Do you think there is a place for public and media recognition for graphic design? Will we witness the rise of the “star graphic designer”, as we have seen the “star architect”?
  • A: Public recognition is important because it makes every designer more of an equal partner for the client. As long as we are considered a lower form of production service, clients will not involve us properly and will not pay us the money our work deserves.
  • Q: In your almost 30-year old career, you have developed a myriad of typefaces, systems and interfaces, which have been applied to magazines and books and TV channels, trains and cars and planes, motorways and airports and cities. All this has truly shaped our living environment and visual landscape, not only in Germany and Europe, but indeed around the world. Do you ever stop and think on the impact of your work in everything that surrounds millions of people?
  • A: I do. Every time i use the U-Bahn here in Berlin (the Metro), I love the fact that we helped make this a prettier environment than before, plus one that actually helps to get people from A to B effortlessly. And I love the fact that nobody knows who did this. Public design should be invisible. And when people read messages from Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) set in my typefaces, that gives me a kick as well. And again, they don’t need to know that someone actually did that, they just need to enjoy reading. Except potential clients: they need to be told that this was done by designers, not machines.
  • Q: Having said that, and also knowing your role in consulting to cities and government institutions and governments themselves, it can be said you are often a “designer of the establishment”. How often is your work a victim of politics, or how much does bureaucracy and politics get in the way of your work?
  • A: All the time. Politics are just as important with commercial clients, if not more so. We have to play the politics and stay out of them at the same time. I think i have got pretty good at that and I hope that I still do not betray my principles. I still remember being thrown out of offices because I told clients the truth about their companies, and I still have arguments with them. As long as I have enemies as well as friends, I am not totally corrupt.
  • Q: In 1979 you started Meta, and when that got too big you started the United Designers Network in 2000, which in 2007 became SpiekermannPartners. “Thinking small” to you still means running three offices in three different time zones. Will small ever give way to smaller?
  • A: Small is relative. Nobody ever has more than 7 designers work on one project at the same time, but clients still take work to the big studios because it is safe. It is like using Helvetica: it is never very good, but never really bad. We are not big, but we get big projects because my reputation comes from the big projects I have been responsible for. I could happily just design book covers, but nobody will give me those.
  • Q: Your work is often associated with German Graphic, and Typographic, Design. Do you acknowledge this “Germaneness”? Do you cultivate it? Do you fight it? Does it matter?
  • A: I cannot help being German. But i also lived in London for 9 years, was married to an Englishwoman for 25 years, have an English son and now i’m married to an American lady and spend a lot of time in the US. I consider myself an international German. I like all the good German things about myself. I am reliable although chaotic; punctual, but sometimes a year late, fussy about detail but generous with other peoples’ mistakes.
  • Q: A lot of what you do is about improving existing systems or elements, and make them work better for their users, by removing clutter, rethinking processes, optimising outcomes and providing solutions. Is simplifying our lives making our lives too simple? Is there still room for complexity?
  • A: Complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers. You cannot make complex things simple, but you can make them approachable by designing the interface and the process so that people will actually be encouraged to solve complex problems. Clutter is one of the biggest problems of our lives — too much of everything.
  • Q: Do you still wear that bow tie sometimes?
  • A: No, but I look at it now and again.