Erik Nitsche (September 7, 1908 – November 10, 1998) was a pioneer in the design of books, annual reports, and other printed material that relied on meticulous attention to the details of page composition, the elegance of simple type presentation, and the juxtaposition of elements on a page. His hallmarks were impeccably clear design, brilliant colors, smart typography, and an adherence to particular geometric foundations.
Erik Nitsche was born in Lausanne, Switzerland on September 7, 1908 and studied at the Collège Classique of Lausanne and the Kunstgewerbeschule in Munich. Prior to immigrating to the United States, he was a designer for Simplicissimus, Jugend, and Der Querschnitt, creating covers and illustrations. He moved to the United States in 1934, where he worked in Hollywood before moving to New York in 1936. In New York, he worked for major magazines including Life, Vanity Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar as well as advertising and promotional campaigns for Twentieth Century Fox and Universal.
In 1955, Nitsche began working with engineering company General Dynamics as art director, which he held until 1960. He designed a breakthrough series of posters, in addition to designing their corporate image, annual reports, and advertising through the development of information design systems. Nitsche designed a 420-page book on the company's history entitled Dynamic America, prompting him to begin designing his own books.
In the early 1960s, Nitsche moved to Geneva where he established ENI, S.A. (Erik Nitsche International) and designed two encyclopedias: The New Illustrated Library of Science and Invention with 12 books in the setand the History of Music with 20 books in the set. ENI folded after Nitsche's former partner established a similar company designing similar books, leaving him in debt. 1965 to 1980, Nitsche lived in Paris where he produced over 2,000 color illustrations for the five-volume encyclopedia, L’Épopée Nationale d’un Siècle, which covered 100 years of science and technology.
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