Thursday, February 24, 2011

Iconoclast Designer Imre Reiner

 The work of Hungarian born designer Imre Reiner (1900-1987) has always been a favorite of mine. He experimented with letterforms and layouts long before it became a popular pastime as it is today. Not much is printed about Reiner unfortunately, although he, himself published a number of books on typography, monograms, trademarks and the like. He also designed and illustrated book covers for other publishers including Penguin Books and designed many fonts such as Meridian, Corvinus and London Script. Most of his long career was spent living in Switzerland, although he never identified himself with the Swiss modernist movement. He preferred to blend his own modernist approach to design with historical influences and references from architecture, wood engravings and early type ornaments. This mash-up of the old and new ran counter to the post-war Swiss-modern style of his colleagues with their simple, less-is-more approach to design. I find this contrast of bridging such diverse styles quite refreshing. Contrast is an essential component to effective design. What I most enjoy however are Reiner's hand-drawn letterforms which are playful and charming. They could be characterized as experimental even though some of them were produced nearly 60 to 70 years ago.

If you would like to learn and see more of Imre Reiner's work, you can download the beautiful PDF, Below the Fold, Vol. 1, No. 3 with an interesting biography of him written by designer Lorraine Wild.  Below the Fold is an occasional publication designed by William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand of Winterhouse, always exploring a single topic. This issue is devoted entirely to Reiner. 

::Photos from the Letterology Archives.


  1. Thanks so much for posting these images. I've always been intrigued by a font called Tokay — now it’s clear the typeface was (more than) inspired by Reiner’s work.

  2. And thanks for your comment and link Stephen. I was not familiar with Tokay, but it does appear the strong resemblance to Reiners' letterforms border on infringement. He didn't even get a word of mention there.

  3. I enjoy seeing your designs and hope you keep them coming!Thank you for sharing with us.


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