Swiss-born Erik Nitsche was the king of modernist design

Work / Graphic Design

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

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?)


Erik Nitsche: Gebrauchsgraphik


Erik Nitsche: General Dynamics


Erik Nitsche: History of Land Transportation (dustjacket)


Erik Nitsche: History of Physics (dustjacket)


Erik Nitsche: History of Ships and Seafaring (dustjacket)


Erik Nitsche: History of Weaponrey (dustjacket)


Erik Nitsche: General Dynamics