• Hero-6

    Swiss-born Erik Nitsche was the king of modernist design

Graphic Design

Graphic Design: Swiss-born Erik Nitsche was the king of modernist design

Posted by Maisie Skidmore,

Now I enjoy graphic design, I really do, but I’m not ashamed to admit that it takes a seriously swanky book cover or magazine redesign to get me hot under the collar. But even I can appreciate the brilliance of legendary designer Erik Nitsche and seeing as Saturday would have been his birthday, we decided to remind ourselves of the man’s sheer visual genius.

Born in 1908, Erik passed away 15 years ago, and his work (which ranged from art direction, book design, illustration and typography to advertising and packaging design… Phew!) has now come full circle to fill the gap that many young designers dream of filling; uncluttered, geometric and iconic images, with a smattering of colour which begs to be categorised as “vintage” but, actually, deserves far more in terms of recognition.

Working in Germany and Paris in the 1930s and 40s and later in New York and Connecticut, Erik found himself creating imagery which merged the rationalism popular to Bauhaus with more Art Deco inspired references, which perhaps accounts for his popularity among employers. Especially worth checking out is his extensive sci-fi-esque work for General Dynamics Corporation, an American aerospace company, for whom he created imagery more worthy of charmingly antiquated films than an engineering company. (Those curled corners are 100% genuine, graphics geeks, and don’t they just look lovely?)

  • 1

    Erik Nitsche: Gebrauchsgraphik

  • 3

    Erik Nitsche: General Dynamics

  • 4

    Erik Nitsche: History of Land Transportation (dustjacket)

  • 5

    Erik Nitsche: History of Physics (dustjacket)

  • 6

    Erik Nitsche: History of Ships and Seafaring (dustjacket)

  • 7

    Erik Nitsche: History of Weaponrey (dustjacket)

  • All

    Erik Nitsche: General Dynamics

Ms-300

Posted by Maisie Skidmore

Assistant Editor Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 and has stayed with us ever since. She has a particular interest in art, fashion and photography and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast. She also oversees our London listings guide This At There.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. List

    I’ve got a confession to make; I’ve posted quite a few people recently that I discovered on the website of a Dutch Risograph studio called Vinex Pers. Viktor Hachmang created their identity and they count some of my favourite illustrators as clients. Their website is packed full of exciting work from fantastic creative talents and I’d like to show you just one more.

  2. List

    In the past couple of weeks we’ve looked at why Shillington College was founded to offer a different kind of graphic design education and heard from some of the teachers at Shillington campuses around the world about how they make this happen in practice.

  3. List

    It’s been a couple of years since we last featured Melbourne-based studio A Friend of Mine so the launch of their brand new website was the perfect chance to celebrate their talents again. Suzy Tuxen and her team were commissioned by new art and design fair Supergraph to create a “strong, industrial and friendly” identity and needed a graphic solution that stood on its own two feet without overshadowing the creative work featured at the event.

  4. List

    This year for the first time ever Istanbul is to be included in the Venice Architecture Biennale, and will showcase the work of five contemporary Turkish artists as curated by Murat Tabanlıoğlu. So how do you go about celebrating your country’s participation in one of the greatest celebrations of architecture? If you’re anything like graphic design studio Future Anecdotes Istanbul, you put together a glorious identity and accompanying publication to celebrate the event.

  5. List

    Marcello Velho is one of a school of graphic artists subverting the forms of internet art that we’re becoming used to seeing, and doing something completely unanticipated with them. His abstract compositions are experimental and ambiguous, but that’s exactly what makes them exciting. He’s a pretty dab hand at design too, working on magazine covers, art directing features and just generally applying his magic touch wherever it’s needed. It’s only a matter of time until a global fashion brand with a wildly cool following happens upon his work and immediately has him applying his learned eye to look books, textile design and event invitations. Just for the record though, we got here first, yeah?

  6. List

    Behold! Dutch illustrator and designer Julian Sirre has a portfolio packed to the gunnels with beautiful futuristic design. His posters and prints take inspiration from 1980s sci-fi, Japanese printmaking and superhero comics, all amalgamated into a wholly unique visual language. He’s worked for Dutch science fiction magazines, London venues and a variety of extraordinary exhibitions including a group show with Jordy Van Den Niewendijk, Viktor Hachmang and Robin van Wijk – all exceptionally cool dudes.

  7. List

    Battersea Power Station is one of my favourite buildings in London (you can add that to the list of things-you-don’t-care-about-which-I-tell-you-anyway-in-these-posts if you like). Anyway this summer it’s hosting the Everyman Cinema and east London’s Bread Collective was brought in to create the branding and hand-paint all the on-site signage. Bread has previous experience when it comes to large scale design work that packs a personality-filled punch and it’s great to see them unleash their talents on such a famous landmark. The bright and lively visuals juxtapose neatly with their industrial surroundings and there’s a consistency that ties the site together without feeling sterile.

  8. List

    My favourite thing about Paris-based design studio Twice is that they continually combine texture and colour in such a way that I’m practically banging my hands into my computer screen with wanting to hold their publications in my hands. That’s the trouble with tactility – it’s not practical – but that shouldn’t mean designers abandon it altogether in favour of a wipe-clean, stark, sterile aesthetic that makes us lose all hope in print.

  9. List

    I was lucky enough to visit Istanbul for its inaugural design biennale back in 2012 and although I was blown away by its creative scene, I didn’t come across too much graphic design. Rummaging through Studio Sarp Sozdinler’s website this week, I had the nagging feeling that I might have missed out.

  10. List

    Belgian graphic designer Broos Stoffels has it all; great poster designs, great typefaces, great Dance Organ-powered drawing machine for the creation of custom vinyl sleeves – no really! The young designer is a former student of Sint Lucas in Ghent, a institution with proven design pedigree, and has spent the last few years honing his practical and conceptual skills into a fantastically coherent body of work.

  11. List

    If you aren’t familiar with The Casual Optimist blog about publishing and book culture then it’s well worth checking out (I’ll wait). Anyway last week its author shared these amazing posters created by the leading German graphic designer Gunter Rambow for the S. Fischer Verlag publishing house back in the 1970s. What’s interesting is that some of them tiptoe right up to the edge of being gimmicky, but always stay the right side of the line thanks to Gunter’s unerring image-making brilliance. I really can’t get enough of these.

  12. List

    When a studio does everything it can to get to the very root of a client’s working philosophy, it often leads to the most interesting and effective identity design. This is definitely true of Toronto-based studio Blok Design’s work for Dallas film production company Lucky 21. Created to mark the company’s new venture – “taking on the highly competitive LA market” – the identity takes into account the brand’s character, which the studio describes as “full of humour and fiercely passionate” to create a set of visuals that fall close to home.

  13. List-2

    Illustrator and longtime mate of ours Michael Willis is straying away from illustration and into something altogether more design-focussed. The elements at the heart of his images are the same; placing retro and contemporary influences side-by-side to create something so contemporary that it feels ahead of its time. He’s been working recently with Mood NYC, providing photographic manipulation and graphic treatment for their look book as well as helping create an overarching aesthetic for the brand, one which evades the recurring trends and repetitive styles that seem to permeate many designers’ portfolios.