|This article relies on references to primary sources. (February 2009)|
MetaDesign is a global design consultancy founded by Erik Spiekermann, Uli Mayer-Johanssen and Hans Ch. Krüger. The business has offices in Berlin, Beijing, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Zurich and San Francisco and more than 330 employees.
Berlin, 1979 and 1990
Spiekermann founded the company in 1979, and went through two iterations of the business before the most successful period when he partnered up with Hans C. Krueger, a businessman with a background in banking, and Uli Mayer-Johanssen, a graphic designer and stage designer in 1990. Initially the company had offices in Berlin overlooking the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz and was serendipitously in the right place, with the right people at the right time to take full advantage of the reunification of Germany and the City of Berlin in particular. Today the company resides in a 1920s landmark industrial building in Berlin-Charlottenburg. MetaDesign's principal reputation was gleaned through engagements for the Berlin Transit System (BVG) in a project that became a figurehead for the reunification of the city. Further landmark engagements followed for Volkswagen, Audi, Düsseldorf Airport Authority and Springer Verlag, with MetaDesign providing corporate identity solutions for the first wave of internet adopters. The Meta typeface, designed by Spiekermann originally for the German Bundespost, was by this time also becoming ubiquitous.
San Francisco, 1992, London, 1995, Zurich 2000, and Geneva 2013
In 1992, MetaDesign established the San Francisco office, around Bill Hill (IDEO) and Terry Irwin (Landor Associates), and then in 1995 the London office around Tim Fendley (now Founder of Applied Information Group), and Robin Richmond (now founder Immersive Projects), formerly Union Design. Meta's San Francisco office grew a reputation for client relationships with Silicon Valley technology companies and developed innovative interactive teaching media including ViZability, IDEO's first web site, publishing systems for Ernst & Young and McGraw Hill and specialist event publicity for Fuse 98. The MetaDesign London office specialized in branding for the digital arena working for clients including The Economist Group, Ferrari, and European identities for Lexus and Škoda Auto. The company also developed the Bristol Legible City initiative for The City of Bristol. In 1998 the San Francisco office brought in Stan Leopard as principal and chairman. In 1999, the London office left the group and joined Icon Medialab, who then merged with Michiel Mol's Lost Boys in 2002. In 2001, Lost Boys had also purchased the majority of the shares of MetaDesign in Berlin. By 2001 founder Spiekermann had left to run his own projects forming the United Designers Network in 2002-3 which formerly became rebranded as Spiekermann Associates in 2007. MetaDesign Suisse was founded in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2000, with partners Dr. Alexander Haldemann and Bruno Schmidt. Dr. Haldemann launched MetaDesign Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2013.
Beijing, Düsseldorf and Hamburg, 2008
The MetaDesign AG with co-founder Uli Mayer-Johanssen as managing director and CDO has opened offices in Beijing, Düsseldorf and Hamburg in 2008 and is now employing more than 330 people. It is now the third largest European design agency for corporate design, branding and corporate identity.