In one of his early conversations with my class at Reading in 2011, Gerard Unger gave us one seemingly simple piece of advice: If your brief requires designing for a script other than Latin, think of your project not as Latin and non-Latin, but as, say, Greek and non-Greek or Tamil and non-Tamil, placing the Latin as secondary. Project after project, I have come back to this little nugget. Interpretable in infinite ways and a reminder to use thought in tandem with action, it has always made me think of Gerard and his gentle provocations that helped me navigate my first few months of designing type.
— Pooja Saxena
I first met Gerard over 15 years ago, when studying at the department of Typography and Visual Communication at Reading University. After the first couple months I realized he liked to meet and talk things over during breakfast. In the same way some people favour social life at lunch, coffee breaks, or sharing a drink after office hours, he favoured early breakfast. Sometimes it was a real challenge to wake up early for these meetings, especially when in the middle of a busy conference when nights can be — and usually are — very long. But the prospect of an early coffee with Gerard, chatting about life, travels, history, projects, and of course about some typography was always the perfect incentive to get up and start a new day.
— José Scaglione
I’ve had the privilege of working with Gerard on numerous projects over the years, during which I became familiar with his signature combination of focus, knowledge, energy, openness, and humility. One of the most important things he taught me was the supremacy of the eye over numbers in making decisions about the design of type. Gerard’s contributions to typeface design and design education are undeniably great, and though his death is marked with great sadness, both he and his work will remain inspirations to many.
— Tom Grace
Gerard was a generous person with his colleagues and his students, and I count myself privileged to have been among those type design students in Reading in 2003. His sense of humour and his hospitable manner are remembered by everyone that met him even once. His last book, Theory of Type Design, came as a gift for all of us, and the launch evening, which sold out a large lecture theatre in Rotterdam, was the best way to celebrate it — a gathering of hundreds of friends and colleagues, speakers who shared deeply moving memories, as well as an opportunity for them to tell him face-to-face how much he had inspired them and how much they’d learned from him. An ideal celebration of his life and work!
— Irene Vlachou
My encounters with Gerard were manifold and I have some very fond memories. One such is my visit with José to the Unger home in Bussum whose architecture is rather special — all angles and steep steps with pastel coloured walls, but also very warm and welcoming. In a way this dichotomy pervaded Gerard’s personality on many levels. He was serious and cheeky at the same time, always trying to see humour in life, with a pinch of provocation, which very much manifested in his particular fashion sense. I still see him in the kitchen wearing some funny apron chatting with his wife, Marjan, and us, whilst busying himself with some delicious dips. Gerard was not so well anymore, but his incredible optimism and resolution not to give up will stick with me forever.
— Veronika Burian