Yves Zimmermann: six decades at the forefront of design

The Swiss designer was a key player in Spain for his inventive logos and graphic solutions

Designer, teacher, editor. If he were just one of these things, Yves Zimmermann would have still left a mark on the early years of graphic design in Spain. However, he managed to be all three and his impact on the craft is still felt today. Zimmermann, who died on Sunday, July 4, 2021 at the age of 84, leaves us a legacy of corporate identities in Spain and wide international recognition.

Arriving in Barcelona in 1961, at just 24, Zimmermann brought with him a new conception of design, influenced by his Swiss roots, that he applied to his works, classes and collection of books GG Diseño. Zimmermann has worked with Barcelona Airport, the Bank of Spain, Carolina Herrera and the Círculo de Lectores. He was a finalist in the competition to design the euro notes and won the Premio Nacional de Diseño in Spain.

Join us to remember the extraordinary career of Zimmermann in this interview that he gave to Domestika - that became his last one - where he transmitted his passion for graphic solutions, talked about his legacy, the industry and current creativity.

"Letter setter"

Zimmermann knew from a young age that he wanted to be a designer. He started to work at a printing press where they composed texts by hand, after which, as he says himself, a psychologist determined he should be a "letter setter".

Even then, Zimmermann was in touch with Emil Ruder, an influential Swiss designer and typographer in the history of graphic design. He expressed to him that he wanted to design letters, not compose them. So, on a day that he says changed his life, Ruder suggested he go to New York.

Yves Zimmermann: six decades at the forefront of design 3
Yves Zimmermann

From New York to Barcelona

At the start of his career, Zimmermann worked in New York in the emerging field of corporate identities. It wasn't long before he returned to Basel, where he started working for Geigy. They proposed he moved to their office in Barcelona, a city the designer would fall in love with and from which he would never move again.

Soon, Zimmermann began giving classes at the EINA and Elisava design schools and, after a few years, he began coordinating the essential collection of books on graphic design, GG Diseño. It would introduced radical new ideas to Spain's design industry, modernizing a sector that was beginning to wake up to international trends.

Yves Zimmermann: six decades at the forefront of design 5

The important is not the beautiful

According to Zimmermann, "anything can be beautiful, but the important is to connect with the receiver through design". For him, a designer needed to communicate the minimum essence, taking away anything that didn't mean anything.

To design is to resolve problems: a designer should deal with their client's problems in the same way a doctor deals with their patients' pain, by recommending the best solution for the job.

Yves Zimmermann: six decades at the forefront of design 7
Yves Zimmermann: six decades at the forefront of design 8

And so, as one who proposes remedies for everyday aesthetic ailments, this remarkable creator was leaving his mark on the most varied areas of design: corporate identity, packaging, editorial design. Beyond offering solutions, he has offered ideas and knowledge, editing and publishing many books on the subject when he directed the Gustavo Gili Diseño collection.

Together with André Ricard he founded Disseny Industrial and the Zimmermann studio. He also participated in the founding of the Association of Professional Designers, in 1978, in Spain. Recognition for a truly outstanding – and pioneering work in that country – has come through many tributes and awards, including the National Design Award, officially awarded by the Spanish government in 1995.

Goodbye, maestro!

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