Speaker Spotlight: Spatial Problem-Solver and Urban Designer Ruedi Baur


"I often say graphic designers have to think of themselves as urbanists for the social landscape"

The World Design Summit is proud to announce the participation of Ruedi Baur, graphic artist, spatial problem-solver and urban designer to the line-up of keynote speakers at the Summit's Congress, this October 2017. Baur will once again be partnering with the Summit's own Jean Beaudoin as the artistic directors of the World Design Summit Exposition. The duo will take on the design, wayfinding and total experience at the event's host venue, the Palais des congrès de Montréal.

Not far from where the Palais sits, another Baur/Beaudoin project was launched: le Parcours lumière, a project for a downtown section of Montreal, le Quartier des spectacles, a hub in the city dedicated to culture, performing arts and entertainment.

world design summit - ruedi baur


The project was created as an "urban branding" for le quartier to highlight public spaces, while simultaneously reducing it's light pollution with the installation of red LED energy-saving light bulbs, which still maintains and respects the "starry night sky". The project also gives a petit clin d'œil to the area's history as a Red Light district, dating back to the 19th century.

"They are not disruptive" Baur states about the trend he sees in young designers over the past 15 years, "they take their lead from the corporate world...there's less courage to try something new, something that might not have mass appeal"

Ruedi Baur was born in 1956 in Paris and spent his childhood in France. Moving to Switzerland, Baur trained as a graphic designer with Michael Baviera in Zurich. The Franco-Swiss designer then returned to France and founded his first studio in Lyon in the early 1980s. Initially focusing on cultural projects, he principally designed visual concepts for various museums. Baur developed a parallel activity of curating design exhibitions, first with the Project Gallery then design at La Maison du livre, de l’image et du son (The House of Books, Image and Sound).

Towards the end of the 1980s, Baur developed design projects for major Parisian art institutions including the Picasso Museum, the Louvre and, in particular, the Pompidou Center. Baur designed the complete wayfinding and identification system for the Pompidou Center’s reopening in 2000. He brought the fields of architecture and urban development more closely together through his interventions in identification, guidance and scenography of institutions and their political territory.

world design summit - ruedi baur


One of Baur's more recent projects includes the art direction, graphics and signage for The New School University Center in New York City. Baur's firm created 3D lettering based on Peter Bilak's typeface, Irma, which uses different perspectives to indicate the direction one is traveling as you move from ground level to top floor, as the letters' shape intensifies. See more on the project here.

Mr. Baur continues to teach at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris, as well as regularly in China at the Luxun Academy in Shenyang, the Central Academy of Arts (CAFA) in Beijing and at the Percé international school which is linked with the University of Laval in Quebec, Canada which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2007. As a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) since 1992, Baur continues to participate in many workshops, judging panels and gives regular lectures.


When asked (in 2014) what he would like to do that he has not done before, his response was:

"I’m hoping that an influential politician understands what I can offer him, what design can offer him. I want to see design implemented on a big complex scale to help society. I’m ready for some extra responsibility".

Come see Ruedi Baur live discussing his work and ideas around visual identity, systems for orientation and designing for the social space at the World Design Summit 2017 this October.