Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Conversation With Erik Spiekermann

Om Malik interviews Erik Spiekermann (via John Gruber):

Because we were German, we were very much about implementation. Making sure you had rules that you could actually follow, because it was monolithic. There was no internet. The English were good at concepts, and then they lost it. That’s actually a good combination, the English with their creativity and their weird ideas and then you get a German to make it work. To tighten all the bolts. […] We’re not creative in Germany; we’re good at making things. Too good. We always make things 120 percent. You buy anything from us, it’s always over-engineered.


I did some work for Apple in ’86, ’87. I got the first LaserWriter as payment, which at the time was like 20,000 marks. It was more than a Golf, the car.


There are physical limitations as to certain size. It’s nice to read 10 words a line, 50 to 60 characters. This is science. This is not me. This is something that we like, the way our eyes move in little segments. There are physical limitations to our eyes: the curvature of our eyeballs, the space we have in front of us, the distance from the eyes. That’s human, and no machine can ever change that.


I open [the paper version] and I find things that I wasn’t looking for. On the screen, you have to have a hierarchy, because you can’t fit so much. You have to look for something. Whereas I open the [printed] page and I will find something I wasn’t looking for, I would have never looked for. I wouldn’t know what to look for. I find things that I wasn’t expecting, and that is enriching.


Mobile fonts are doable, but for some reason are behind there. […] It’s ignorance, because these are engineering companies. Essentially, so is Apple. Jony is a mate of mine, and he is a good designer, but he is more of an engineer. He is surrounded by these kids in their twenties, and they go for whatever is trendy. For some reason there is nobody in management to tell these guys to go to us for some advice.

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