Erik Adigard des Gautries is a designer and media artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was born in Brazzaville, Congo where his father was stationed as a French foreign correspondent. When he was ten his family moved back to Paris. He began his university studies in English literature, semiotics, and fine arts in France before going to the United States to receive a BFA in graphic design in 1987 at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco/Oakland.
While still a student, his first designs earned him national awards for their experimental mix of iconography and offset printing techniques. Upon graduation, with Patricia McShane, he established M-A-D—also known as "madxs", a brand and communications design studio. Since creating his first digital images for Macworld magazine in 1989 he has been exploring the limits of the graphic design discipline as it continues to be redefined by shifting relationships with technology and social phenomena. His activities range from branding, print, web, video and multimedia, to consulting and exhibits—always with a concern for conceptual accuracy and creative innovation.
In 1992 he participated in the launch of Wired magazine by conceiving its first visual essay, and then continued to develop a visual vernacular specific to Wired and often labeled "Wired look". In 1996-98 he served as design director for WiredVentures where he designed new web offerings, including the Hotbot search engine, WiredNews and the ground breaking LiveWired. His short documentary, Webdreamer, a portrait of fellow web designers, was featured in international film festivals such as Resfest and the online Sundance Film Festival. In 1999 he co-authored Architecture Must Burn with Aaron Betsky.
From 2000 to 2004 Adigard developed brand strategy for IBM software, creating a graphic system that allowed for five distinct brands, DB2, Lotus, Tivoli, Rational, and Websphere, to combine into an integrated offering. This brand system included a visual campaign that was in continual use throughout the decade.
Among many exhibits, his main commissions include Catalysts! Engage for ExperimentaDesign'05, Lisbon, Portugal and AirXY for the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2008.
At the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2012 Adigard created the graphic design and a floor exhibit for SpontaneousInterventions, the American Pavilion installation that was awarded a special mention for National Participation by the Biennale Jury.
Adigard’s creations have been shown in major international exhibitions, film festivals and publications, such as The Sundance Film Festival, the Pasadena Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Wellcome Trust in London, the Toronto International Airport, and Meggs’ History of Graphic Design. Among his top awards is The Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design. Erik Adigard is the 2012-2013 Katherine Edwards Gordon Rome Prize Fellow in Design.
He belongs to the Alliance Graphique Internationale and from 2009 to 2011 was a board member of Adobe Design Achievement Awards. Other academic activities include advising and teaching in graphic design, media design and architecture, and lecturing in the US and abroad on emerging design subjects.