Remembering Peter Seitz September 28, 2023
AIGA Minnesota Fellow, Peter Seitz, passed away on Thursday, September 21, 2023.
Peter graduated from Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm (Ulm School of Design) in Germany with a diploma in Visual Communication in 1959. He then received a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Graphic Design and Photography from Yale University in 1961.
In 1964, Walker Art Center director Martin Friedman appointed Peter design curator and editor of the Design Quarterly, a national publication of applied arts, architecture, and design. He also served as the first design director at the Walker Art Center.
In 1968, Peter opened his first graphic design firm, Visual Communication, Inc., as a solo practitioner. He went on to organize the Minnesota Chapter of AIGA, and Siggraph. In 1970, Peter was a founding member in launching InterDesign, the Twin Cities’ first interdisciplinary design firm. Major InterDesign projects include: the identity programs and signage systems for the Minneapolis Parkways, the downtown St. Paul Skyways, the Minnesota State Capitol and the Minnesota Zoo.
In 1971, Peter began teaching graphic design classes part-time at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He served as Chair of the Design Department from 1977 to 1978, and as Acting Chair of Design from 1998 to 1999. He assembled one of the first computer graphics laboratories at MCAD in 1981. Peter retired and became MCAD professor emeritus in 2002. His life and work is chronicled in a 2007 book, “Peter Seitz: Designing A Life”.
Peter was a co-founder of Seitz Yamamoto Moss, a Minneapolis-based design firm.
Peter was one of the founders of the Minnesota Graphic Designers Association (MGDA) and served a term as president. MGDA became AIGA Minnesota in 1986 and Peter was the recipient of the first AIGA Minnesota Fellow Award.
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Memories of Peter
Remembering a modern design master from Patrick Redmond
“Peter Seitz taught many graphic design courses, yet I never attended any of them. He hired me for a full-time position in graphic design at the newly-formed, dynamic, innovative interdisciplinary design firm he had co-founded, InterDesign, the summer of 1970. I had the honor and opportunity to learn from him directly there, not as my teacher but as an exemplar, in what I consider to have been like an apprenticeship to a master graphic designer. I was honored to join those who celebrated Peter receiving the first AIGA Minnesota Fellow Award. He was also among the relatively small percentage of those working in the field who had a master’s degree. His design education and career lineage are impressive in themselves. As one of his early protégés, I have always admired and respected Peter and his work, appreciating his positive influence in the field and in my own career.”
Remembrances from Monica Little
“Peter was by far my toughest teacher. And he was my most supportive teacher, assuring Debra Cohen ‘78 and me that we did indeed have what it took to launch a design firm a year after graduating from MCAD.”
Remembrances from Gay Beste Reineck
“Peter Seitz was a huge part of my life. In 1967 he was the first Design Director of The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and he wanted a European educated design assistant.
I became that design assistant, recruited from England by Martin Friedman, Director of The Walker Art Center.
I left England (after 7 years at Kingston College of the Arts and The London College of Printing) in June 1967 for what I thought might be a year in the U.S. but I am still here in 2023! I would not be here if it were not for Peter.
Peter and I had a great relationship from the start and I learned an enormous amount from him. One day he told me that the process of “design” could be applied to anything—even relationships—I have never forgotten this.
We worked closely together at The Walker (June 1967–March 1968) on bro- chures for the Education Department, many posters and catalogs for exhibitions, as well as the magazine Design Quarterly. In 1968/69 The Walker decided to re–build a new, modern museum on the same site. It relocated its offices downtown and Peter left to start his own inter–disciplinary design group called InterDesign. I was left in charge of the Walker design department. After a year Peter asked me to join InterDesign where I spent two years working there as the only woman. He and I worked closely together and I took on more and more of the design tasks as he was busy with ad- ministration. This was a great experience. Peter started to take me to visit client to get a full understanding of how to interact with them. I also learned how to work with architects, a landscape architect and system analyst. In 1970 InterDesign sent me to the International Design Conference in Aspen, Colorado. Here I met my husband Jack, and so my life dramatically changed again but I remained in close contact with Peter. Jack & I visited him in the house with the blue roof he designed in Pepin, Wisconsin, and we continued to exchange letters and emails after his move to Northfield, Minnesota. I also received cards of his watercolors–he took up watercolor painting in his later years. ”