Graphic designer Hans Schleger was born Hans Schlesinger to middle-class Jewish parents in Kempen, Prussia in December 1898. In 1904 the family moved to Berlin and, at the age of 20, he shortened his name to Schleger. He trained at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin from 1918–21, before being employed as a publicity and film set designer by John Hagenbeck. In 1924 he moved to New York, where he worked in advertising, first as a freelance designer and then, as an art director. He also began working under the name Zéró and established his own studio in 1926. He was an early contributor to the New Yorker and later became visiting Associate Professor at the Institute of Design, Chicago. In 1929 Schleger returned to Berlin but, worried by the rise of Nazism and already a confirmed Anglophile, immigrated three years later to England (where he was naturalised in 1938). In 1934 the publisher Lund Humphries organised an exhibition of his work in Bedford Square and he again opened his own studio.


Together with Edward McKnight Kauffer, Schleger introduced the British public to modern graphic design and the concept of ‘corporate identity’, refining the famous London Transport ‘bull’s-eye’ icon into the bus stop symbol. During the Second World War, he designed many posters for London Transport, the Ministry of Food and the GPO. In 1946 he participated in the Britain Can Make It exhibition and contributed to the influential publication The Practice of Design; in 1959 he was appointed Royal Designer for Industry. He also held many lecturing posts including Guest lecturer at Chelsea Polytechnic, Central St Martins, and the Royal College of Art (RCA). Solo exhibitions of his work were held in London, New York and Chicago and today his work is held in many collections including London Transport Museum and the Imperial War Museum.