Oliver Reichenstein: Continuity through Design

Oliver Reichenstein started his talk by showing the famous Mad Men carousel clip (which you can see here ). Immediately after, he showed the same clip, only it replaced the slide photos with screenshots of the Facebook timeline. It was a clever way to illustrate the stark emotional difference between analog and digital. But why was this the case and where does this need come from? “Is it because Facebook sucks? Because it is badly designed? Because it looks unreal?” We are surrounded with the trend of analog, skeuomorphic design. He argues that such a thing is okay as long as they uphold their promise (he cited the new iPad app, Paper, being a good example).

Photo Credit: Amber Gregory

One of the bold things about Oliver’s talk was the lack of slides. This brought a refreshing clarity to his speech with zero distractions. Oliver tackled the subject of responsive design by stating, “Adapting the design to different lay-outs is not the answer. It’s all about the typography.” Finding the ideal typeface that would work across different devices and screens was a challenge. Historically, Georgia was his go to typeface but as he found out, fonts render differently on each of the devices and screen resolutions. For example, the Nitti typeface used on the iA Writer app — which I highly recommend checking out — looked perfect on the iPad but appeared to be too light on the iPhone 4. ”You don’t see the difference, you feel it.” This obsession with continuity carried over to his client work, iA Writer and the iA site itself; which if you thought the old site was simple, the new one is stunningly simple. The new site features a new typeface designed by Oliver himself which stemmed from the search for that ideal typeface. So rather than spending time finding one, he set out to design his own.

The heavily informative, inspirational talk ended with Oliver’s taking a jab at Spiekermann’s own Edenspiekermann site for having a font that was ”too condensed.” Rest assured, Spiekermann had a rebuttal making for a very entertaining end to the talk.

Posted by Tim Kim


Oliver Reichenstein

Oliver Reichenstein

Digital Designer (Zurich)

Oliver Reichenstein studied Philosophy in Basel and Paris. He worked as brand consultant for Interbrand Zintzmeyer & Lux for four years. In 2003, he moved to Tokyo where he founded his Information Architects Inc. (iA). Today, iA is one of the leading Web design agencies.