Erik Spiekermann (born 30 May 1947 in Stadthagen, Lower Saxony) is a German typographer, designer and writer. 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.
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 United Designers Network, 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. 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. In May 2007 he was the first designer to be elected into the European Design Awards Hall of Fame.
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 . 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. He often attends international meetings, and has been giving a substantial contribution in several fields, such as app development and public wayfinding.
On 18 August 2017, Spiekermann replied to a tweet in which author Laura Kalbag announced having written a new book to be released by Jeffrey Zeldman's A Book Apart publishing company. Spiekermann replied: "Actually, you wrote a text. It took a few other people & skills to make that into a book."
Over the next 24 hours, several prominent figures in the design and tech industries — as well as authors J.K. Rowling and Roxane Gay — stepped forward to criticise Spiekermann's behaviour and show their support for Kalbag.
Spiekermann has designed many commercial typefaces as well as typefaces as part of corporate design programmes.
- Berliner Grotesk (original is from 1913, digitization is from c. 1978)
- 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)
- 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 Carrois) 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.
Spiekermann also appeared in the documentary Helvetica.
- 2003 – Gerrit Noordzij Prize
- 2006 – German Design Award
- 2007 – European Design Awards Hall of Fame
- 2007 – Honorary Royal Designer for Industry, Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, London
- 2011 – Lifetime achievement award from German Design Prize