Gerhard Doerrié was known for his exceptional skill as a designer and an educator. Born in Celle, Germany, he grew up in the forests of Lower Saxony in the care of his Russian-German grandmother. As a young man he aspired to go to art school, but none had yet reopened after the war, and he went to work instead as an apprentice to a typesetter. After finishing his apprenticeship, he went on to the Werkkunstchule Hannover, where he completed the graphic design programme with honours, and then studied in Paris on a Walter Gropius Foundation Scholarship.
In 1961, Gerhard came to Canada and participated in the re-design of the Canadian National Railway graphic identity with the firm of James Valkus Inc. Montréal/New York and later taught at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. In the sixties he became Design Director at Paul Arthur & Associates in Ottawa. From 1971–1974, Gerhard was head of the Department of Visual Communication at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax. Later on, through contacts with his associates and former students from Halifax, he was instrumental in the forming of the Atlantic Chapter of the GDC.
Professionally, Gerhard’s work included the signage system for Carleton University, environmental design and visual information systems for Mercy Hospital in Chicago and hospitals in Washington, Puerto Rico and Florida. He received numerous awards for his graphic design work from, among others, the Montréal and Toronto Art Directors Shows, and the New York Type Directors Club. He was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1973. Gerhard’s experimental work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gerhard Doerrié died in Berlin in February 1984. As a graphic designer and a teacher of graphic design, Gerhard contributed significantly to the profession in Canada. He is remembered for his boundless creativity and his great personal strength.