Michael Peters (b. 1941) British Graphic Designer

Michael Peters featured image

Packaging Designer

Michael Peters (1940 – ) is a British Graphic Designer and entrepreneur. Michael Peters and Partners, Michael Peters Group PLC, and Identica are among the design firms founded by Peters.

Education

After completing Luton Grammar School, Peters studied at the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts (now London College of Communication). His teachers were Tom Eckersley and Harry C. Beck, the designer of the London Underground plan. After graduation, he received a scholarship to Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture in New Haven, Connecticut, after graduation, and studied under Paul Rand, Josef Albers, Norman Ives, Herbert Matter, and Alexej Brodovitch. He credits these teachers, as well as the Bauhaus School, for influencing his career. He earned his Master’s degree in 1963.

Biography

The 1980s in Britain were marked by an apparent economic rebound and a newfound enthusiasm among Britons for business, risky capitalism, and design. Design was pushed as a fundamental ingredient to financial success by a new generation of design entrepreneurs, one of them being Michael Peters.

Like other British design entrepreneurs such as Rodney Fitch and Wally Olins, Peters is known for turning design into a separate business. In doing so, and in the instance of Peters and Fitch, getting their design firms listed on the stock exchange and recognised seriously by the financial press, they accomplished for design in Europe what Raymond Loewy had accomplished in the United States between 1930 and 1970. This achievement is based less on the quality of individual design projects. However, some are excellent, and more on elevating the designer’s overall status: industry and business now turn to design groups like Michael Peters’ for advice, improvements to their overall corporate image, ideas for more effective planning of their design-to-production process, and, of course, for inspiration.

  • Windsor and Newton Inks
  • Windsor & Newtown Drawing Ink packaging by Michael Peters OBE

Some argue that Michael Peters’ studio’s approach to packaging design in the 1980s breathed new life into a dormant design discipline and helped British retailers resurrect their sales. Ironically, design firms like Peters’ found themselves producing items for foreign producers while also creating labels for British stores and identifying logos for failing nationalised businesses like British Rail Freight. Peters is particularly proud of the packaging he created for Winsor and Newton Inks, Elsenham Jams, and Penhaligon’s fragrance. His product design department also created a casing for a new British radio, even though all of the components came from Asia.

Peters promotes himself, his company, and design in general as a force for good, noting his environmental concerns, his involvement in retraining and design for manufacturing program to help the unemployed, and creating a foundation to support the applied arts. Michael Peters Associates, on the other hand, went out of business in 1990. In 1992 Peters set up a new business, Identica, a branding and design agency. The company worked for Universal Studios, Diageo and other international brands. Identica was acquired by Cossette Communications Group, a Canadian advertising and communication firm, in 2004.

Recognition

In the 1960s, Michael Peters was awarded a D&AD Yellow Pencil. In June 1990, he was awarded an OBE for contributions to design and marketing. In 2002, he was nominated for the Prince Philip Designer’s Prize.

Yes logo: 40 years of Michael Peters: branding, design, and communication, a book about his work, was published in 2008.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

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