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Time and Der Spiegel: Suspiciously Similar?

A retrospective design review.


Jandos Rothstein By Jandos Rothstein
01/07/2008 -10:46 AM






We closed up Germanica week at Designing Magazines with a look at a 1965 Der Spiegel which has a design suspiciously similar to the look Time sported through the earlier half of the last decade.

Linear layout throughout—with one story flowing into the next, diminutive Futura headlines, and identically unwavering three-column grids, as in these spreads from 1965 (Der) and 1964 (Time). And of course, both magazines use a cheerful red frame on their covers, a device that remains constant to this day.

I guess I shouldn't say it's suspicious—I really don't know who's cribbing whom, if anyone. To be fair, there were only four or five typefaces before 1974, so occasional overlap was inevitable. And, as both were letterpressed news magazines, form is following function and all that in both cases. Still, the two pubs seem remarkably close.

This does raise the question, however of how close the current versions of Der S and Time are—not much, since Time’s celebrated redesign a while back. But Spiegel doesn’t look much different than Time looked in the mid-90s—although DS doesn’t use Time’s signature Franklin #2 for headlines, they use heads in a similar way, and the font they do employ has a similar presence on the page.

If Der Spiegel's next redesign is all clean, austere and stripped down—we’ll know for sure something is up with these two. Though I doubt that Time would ever run that monospaced typewriter font DS uses on this cover—a particularly sour note on an otherwise merely uninspired photo illustration cover. In contrast Time's contemporary covers are often brilliant pieces of spare visual haiku.



[Editor's note: For more intelligent design talk, buy Jandos' new book.]

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