Erik Spiekermann

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Spiekermann at the beyond tellerrand conference in 2014

Erik Spiekermann (born 30 May 1947 in Stadthagen, Lower Saxony) is a German typographer and designer. He is an honorary professor at the University of the Arts Bremen and ArtCenter College of Design.


Spiekermann studied art history at Berlin's Free University, funding himself by running a letterpress printing press in the basement of his house.[1]

Between 1972 and 1979, he worked as a freelance graphic designer in London before returning to Berlin and founding MetaDesign with two partners.

In 1989, he and his then-wife Joan Spiekermann started FontShop, the first mail-order distributor for digital fonts. FontShop International followed and now publishes the FontFont range of typefaces. MetaDesign combined clean, teutonic-looking information design and complex corporate design systems for clients like BVG (Berlin Transit), Düsseldorf Airport, Audi, Volkswagen and Heidelberg Printing, amongst others.

In 2001, Spiekermann left MetaDesign over policy disagreements and started UDN | United Designers Networks with offices in Berlin, London, and San Francisco.

In April 2006, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena awarded Spiekermann an Honorary Doctorship for his contribution to design.[2] His family of typefaces for Deutsche Bahn (German Railways), designed with Christian Schwartz, received a Gold Medal at the German Federal Design Prize in 2006, the highest such award in Germany.[2] In May 2007 he was the first designer to be elected into the European Design Awards Hall of Fame.[3]

In January 2007, UDN was renamed SpiekermannPartners. In January 2009 SpiekermannPartners merged with Dutch design agency Eden Design & Communication and continued its operations under the name Edenspiekermann .[4] Edenspiekermann currently run offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, Singapore, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Spiekermann is considered a very influential personality in the field of typeface design and information design.[5] He often attends international meetings, and has been giving a substantial contribution in several fields, such as app development and public wayfinding.[6][7][8]

Notable works[edit]

Specimens of typefaces by Erik Spiekermann

Spiekermann has designed many commercial typefaces as well as typefaces as part of corporate design programmes.[9][10]

  • Berliner Grotesk (original is from 1913, digitization is from 1979)
  • Lo-Type (original is from 1911/14, digitization is from 1980)
  • ITC Officina Sans (1990)
  • ITC Officina Serif (1990)
  • FF Meta (1991–1998)
  • FF Govan (2001)
  • FF Info (2000)
  • Nokia Sans (2002-2011, corporate typeface for Nokia and the default UI font for Symbian S60 smartphones)[11]
  • FF Unit (2003)
  • FF Meta Serif (with Christian Schwartz and Kris Sowersby, 2007)
  • FF Unit Slab (with Christian Schwartz and Kris Sowersby, 2009)
  • Fira Sans (designed in collaboration with Ralph Carois)[12] for Firefox OS, released in 2013 under the SIL Open Font License)

Spiekermann co-authored Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works. He also participated in the creation of numerous corporate identities and other works, including redesigns of the publications The Economist and Reason.[13]

Spiekermann also appeared in the documentary Helvetica.


See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Erik Spiekermann, E. M. Ginger: Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works, third edition, Adobe Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0321934284
  • Erik Spiekermann: ÜberSchrift, Hermann Schmidt Mainz, 2004, ISBN 3-87439-661-4
  • Erik Spiekermann, Jan Middendorp, Made with FontFont, BIS Publishers, 2006, ISBN 90-6369-129-7
  • Erik Spiekermann et al., FontBook, FontShop International Berlin, 2006
  • Fay Sweet: MetaDesign: Design from the Word Up, Thames and Hudson, 1999. ISBN 0-500-01963-0
  • Erik Spiekermann, M. Klein, Y. Schwemmer-Scheddin: Type and Typographers, Phaidon Press, 1991. ISBN 1-85454-848-4
  • Emigre 51: First Things First, 1999. Issue 51
  • Erler, J., Hello I am Erik. Erik Spiekermann : typographer, designer, entrepreneur, Die Gestalten Verlag, 2014. ISBN 978-3-89955-519-6

External links[edit]