Giovanni Mardersteig

Giovanni Mardersteig has been called one of the most influential designers because of his work to perfectionism and his attention to his work, primarily through his typography and book design throughout his professional life. Mardersteig was born in Weimar, Germany, in 1892. His name had initially been Hans Mardersteig. His father was an art enthusiast himself and a lawyer, having art around him as he grew up. Mardersteig would follow his father’s footsteps and become a lawyer himself, studying in Germany and Austria and eventually getting his law degree from Vienna. He would not become a practicing lawyer, though, because shortly after he decided to pursue a life in design. In 1919, he started out working for Kurt Wolff’s München-based press. During this time in his early career, he created his magazine Genius Magazine, which started in 1919 and ended in 1921, and founded Officina Bodoni, 1922. Mardersteig also worked from 1919 to 1920 with fellow artists Carl Georg Heise and Kurt Pinthius in the production of the Genius art magazine. In 1922, he pursued a life as a printer, Officina Bodoni was his private printing press where he designed the layout and fonts for many publications and books. He named this press after the famous engraver Giambattista Bodoni. This press first started in Montagnola but in 1926 transferred to Verona. Some examples of his work include The Officina Bodoni: an account of the creation of a hand press, 1923-1977 and Giovanni Mardersteig: stamptore, editore, umanista (Valdonega, 1989). In 1926 he sold the print shop and in 1946 he changed his name to Giovanni. Giovanni was known for his perfectionism and attention to good craftsmanship. This craft made him well known in the world of graphic design and made him one of the most influential designers in his time-line. Other designers should know about Mardersteig because of his influence on type itself, making many fonts and contributing to the printing world. He is most known for his contributions to typography in general such as the typefaces Dante, Zeno, and Fontana, just to name a few. He is also often credited as the reason for the high point of the printing craze, because of his recreation of the machine set. He won many awards for his work, including and not limited to “Gutenberg Prize, Bodoni Prize, AIGA Gold Medal, and the Gold Medal for Cultural Merit from the Italian Republic” and is known as the “Prince of the Printers”‘ because of his involvement with helping with printing. He was also awarded “Gutenberg Prize of the City of Mainz and the International Gutenberg Society for outstanding achievements in typographyGutenberg Prize of the City of Mainz and the International Gutenberg Society for outstanding achievements in typography”. At the age of 85 years old, Mardersteig died of an incurable disease in Verona, Italy. The last published book under Mardersteig to be published under his control was “The Seven Sages of Greece”. After his death, he passed down ownership to his son, Martino. His legacy will live on with the remains of his company and his contribution to the world of graphic design.

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