Holger Windfuhr: Celebrating the Analogue Revolution

From landlines to iPhones, snail mail to email and newspapers to notifications — we’ve witnessed the digital revolution creep into almost every aspect of daily life. Now, leaders in the design community are pushing back and shining a light on the importance of print. Art director of high-profile German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungspoke (F.A.Z), Holger WInduhr, spoke at last week’s Creative Paper Conference and to Munich Vibe about the human need for touch and the value of analog design.

This year the Creative Paper Conference theme is Analogue Revolution. What does an analog revolution mean to you?

Digital is great. In all its aspects and iterations it is the defining concept of our time. But it is “virtual” — “virtual” type, “virtual” reality, “virtual” books, etc. There is a yearning to touch, feel and smell something that is real. There are many compelling, beautiful and creative examples of how design, print and printing techniques are fulfilling this very human need. The conference celebrates them.

What are the three messages you hope people took away from your talk at the conference?

1- There is a marked difference between reading on paper and on a screen.
2- Comprehension of complex topics is demonstrably better when reading them on paper.
3- Choose your medium appropriately.

You’ve worked for multiple magazines throughout your career, and your cover images have received numerous awards. Print is an incredibly emotional medium, what do you think are the emotional elements a cover image needs to grab a reader?

There is no one rote approach — whether it is a photograph, illustration or typography-driven cover. It is always topic-driven, and ideal if the cover has a visual twist and shows the topic in an unusual light, juxtaposes concepts or tries to expand the boundaries of the printed page. For example, when a cover turns 180 degrees, the image takes on a new meaning when rotated. The goal should be to surprise the reader in whichever method is appropriate for the topic.

Many of the magazines you worked for were business oriented. How do you blend business and creativity in your design aesthetic?

Business is a hotbed of creativity. Just think of Airbnb creating, in essence, a new industry. Apple, Tesla, BMW and Mercedes as well as many, many others — not solely in the consumer products category. Creativity goes into developing new products and ideas. Add to that the fact that every decision an individual makes in life has economic, social and moral aspects. It is woven into the fabric of life. So I try to visually communicate business, economic or regulatory topics in a way that resonate on a personal level and try to do what I described in the previous question. Humor helps as well.

Magazine or newspaper?

Both — in print and digital.

What is your boldest design move to date since stepping into the role of Art Director at F.A.Z. in 2017?

It’s a bit difficult to describe visuals in writing, but I would say the redesign of the weekly city guide “Leben in Rhein-Main” for the local section of the F.A.Z., a five-page infographic and comic extravaganza illustrating the Bayreuth Festival as well as many pages in the business, culture and science sections.


Interview made by Karen Saukas. Header image: FAZ. 

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