Obituary: Roland Schenk

Management Today's original designer passed away on Monday.

by Simon Kanter
Last Updated: 27 Mar 2019

The word "great" is an often-used epithet for people who, in truth, were rather prosaic.

Not in this case. The great Roland Schenk, who died on Monday, was a design genius, the man who created Management Today’s iconic look when it launched in 1966, a truculent, blunt Swiss German who literally transformed UK business-to-business publishing.

Long time chairman of Haymarket, Lindsay Masters, described him simply as "the best designer in England" adding, "I was so worried that our competitors might realise what a commercial edge our design gave us that I instructed the salesmen never to mention it."

For Schenk, design was not a style, but a process rooted in Swiss Modernism. Designer Pat Brock, recruited by Schenk for our sister-title Campaign in 1968, recalls setting those distinctive Franklin Gothic headlines using Letraset, with strict instructions to hand-trim every "E", "F" and "T" to Schenk's specifications.

His methods stretched beyond typography. Schenk championed illustrators such as Mike Foreman, Ralph Steadman, Fluck and Law (who created Spitting Image) and the photographers Lester Bookbinder, Phil Sayer, Brian Griffin and others.

The very first cover of Management Today, December 1966.

Schenk saw commissioning as one of his greatest achievements. "Due to my previous activity as the art director of DU magazine, which published work by photographers such as Sanders, Frank, Cartier-Bresson et al, I was able to recruit some outstanding photographers."

This passion was best illustrated in the stunning, abstract covers of Management Today, mostly shot by Lester Bookbinder, and followed through with mind bending, confident magazine spreads that remain as fresh and challenging today as they were in the 1960s. Who else but Schenk would dream of using fashion photographers to shoot an automotive manufacturing production line?

At Haymarket, Schenk’s designs defined the identity of the business. We will never see his like again.

Simon Kanter is creative director of Haymarket Business Media, a division of Management Today's parent company Haymarket Media Group. This article was first published on Campaign.

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