Erik Spiekermann is a typomaniac who was commissioned to create the latest redesign of The Economist. A look at his vision, work and typographic understanding would prove to be a useful research before defining the brief and starting work.
I have been suffering from Typomania all my life, a sickness that is incurable but not lethal. The Spiekerblog reflects the fact that I see most things from a typographic perspective.
As most of what we find out about comes to us by typographic media – i.e. visible language – anything and everything may be reported.
Erik Spiekermann, December 2008
Erik Spiekermann is information architect, type designer and author of books and articles on type and typography. Two of his typefaces, FF Meta and ITC Officina, are considered to be modern classics. In 1979 he founded MetaDesign and in 1989 FontShop. He is behind the design of well-know brands such as Audi, Bosch, VW, German Railways and Heidelberg Printing, among others; information systems for Berlin Transit and Düsseldorf Airport and for publications like The Economist. The family of typefaces he designed with Christian Schwartz for DB German Railways got the Gold Medal in the German Design Awards 2007
This article on his blog discusses why Spiekermann’s redesign of the magazine is increasing the magazine’s redearship.
Why The Economist is thriving
Magazines and newspapers are suffering, everywhere. Everywhere? Apparently, one of them is doing extremely well: The Economist. Michael Hirschorn argues in this article in The Atlantic that is has to do with their attitude, style of writing, careful research – in other words quality. In Hirschorn’s words, The Economist may be proof for the fact that »although digital media is clearly supplanting everything analog, digital will not necessarily destroy analog. A better word might be displace.«.
Hirschorn does not mention design, so I’ll have to do that. As I wrote in January 2007 in this very blog on the occasion of the publication of ITC Officina Display, I was responsible for the redesign of The Economist in May 2001.
As seen here, we touched everything, including the text face. It was set smaller in the new version, but the client always thought we’d increased the type size, because it appeared bigger on the page. The images below show two typical spreads, one before, when the newspaper was printed black and white with a bit of red only, and one after, when we had gone to full colour. While I am very pleased that our design held up so well, I think that every publication needs its design evaluated every six or so years. It’s been eight years already for The Economist. Is anybody reading my blog in St. James’s Street?