It is with great sadness that ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne announces the passing of Pierre Keller, its director between 1995 and 2011.
“We do everything seriously, without ever taking ourselves seriously.” This was Pierre Keller’s maxim when he worked at ECAL, and it allowed him to move a small school in the Canton of Vaud up the ranks of Schools of Art and Design worldwide to become a member of the global elite.
A native son of Gilly, Pierre Keller graduated as a graphic designer in 1965 from what was then the Ecole des beaux-arts et arts appliqués in Lausanne (now ECAL), and, while working as a teacher, won fame as an artist, photographer, and representative of the Council of State of Vaud in the organisation of the 700th anniversary of the Swiss nation. In 1995, he returned to ECAL, this time through the front door, and became its new director.
For more than 16 years, he moulded ECAL in his own image – one that was vibrant, original and creative. He tackled all manner of challenges and headed up a number of major projects which all contributed to placing the school on the world stage. Pierre Keller has mounted exhibitions in all four corners of the world, forged countless partnerships with leading brands and institutions and was the brains behind the iconic ECAL building that has stood in Renens since 2007 which he, in partnership with his architect friend Bernard Tschumi, designed throughout. He also strove, at all times, to ensure that his students received the very best. While he has won widespread recognition (Prix de Lausanne, the French Ordre des palmes académiques, the Design Prize Switzerland, and has been invited to deliver guest lectures at institutions such as EPFL in Lausanne and the Tecnológico de Monterrey), his greatest source of pride was clearly the opportunity he enjoyed to help hundreds of young artists and designers to fulfil their potential.
For all these things, ECAL would like to say to you, Pierre, a big THANK YOU!