Mahendra Patel lecture in Mainz

Posted on 10 July 2010 in:

Mahendra Patel beginning his lecture

On Friday, June 25, I drove to Mainz with Otmar Hoefer and Atilla Korap, two Linotype colleagues. We made the short trip from our Bad Homburg office to hear a lecture from this year’s Gutenberg Prize winner, Mahendra Patel.The 18th Gutenberg Prize recipient, Mahendra Patel is the first designer from India to receive this award. The official presentation of the award took place on Saturday, June 26, in Mainz’s city hall. But Otmar, Atilla, and I were not present for that.

The lecture given by Mahendra Patel in the Gutenberg Museum on the night before the award ceremony was not about his typefaces, but about some of the results of various letter design workshops that he has conducted with students at schools in different countries over the past several decades. Mahendra Patel spoke in English, and his speech was summarized and translated into German by Tanja Huckenbeck.

A note from Mahendra Patel

During the 1960s, Mahendra Patel studied in Baroda and Ahmedabad, India, as well as in Basel, Switzerland. In 1970–1971, Mahendra Patel apprenticed with Adrian Frutiger in Paris. Today, he is one of India’s most prolific typeface designers. As an instructor, he has influenced generations of students.

Since 1968, the city of Mainz and the International Gutenberg-Gesellschaft have bestowed the Gutenberg Prize on selected figures from the fields of printing, typography, type design, or other book-related specialities. The prize was originally given every three years. This schedule changed slightly after German reunification. In Leipzig, a similar prize had been bestowed annual, since 1967. Since 1994, each city has been taking turns with the honors. Mainz bestows its award during even-numbered years; the Leipzig prize is presented during odd-numbered years.

The winners (to date) of the Gutenberg Prize are as follows: Giovanni Mardensteig (1968), Henri Friedlaender (1971), Hermann Zapf (1974), Rudolf Hell (1977), Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt (1980), Gerrit Willem Ovink (1983), Adrian Frutiger (1986), Lotte Hellinga-Querido (1989), Ricardo J. Vincent Museros (1992), Paul Brainerd (1994), John Dreyfus (1996), Henri-Jean Martin (1998), Joseph M. Jacobson (2000), Otto Rohse (2002), Robert Darnton (2004), Hubert Wolf (2006), Michael Knoche (2008), Mahendra Patel (2010).

For a list of the winners of the Gutenberg Prize of the City of Leipzig, visit this Wikipedia page.

During the introduction to his lecture, Mahendra Patel showed a series of slides like this one, illustrating the variety of forms in India’s scripts.

Font design workshop

These student workshop results date from 1990. This feels quite cutting-edge to me. How many design professors were designing PostScript fonts with students that early? 

Logo workshop result

“Hippo” in the Devanagari and Latin scripts (and illustrated, too). This was one of many results from multi-script logo design workshops that Mahendra Patel showed during his lecture.


For more information about Mahendra Patel and his work, visit his website, or read this biography.

After he was in Germany, Mahendra Patel spent some time in the UK. Dan Rhatigan has a photo of him presenting to students at the University of Reading. Jo De Baedemaeker took pictures of this, too.

To see all of my photos from the Mahendra Patel lecture in Mainz, visit my Flickr space.