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Michael Wolff on the 'elegant, helpful, modest and inspiring' David Abbott

By Michael Wolff | founder

May 19, 2014 | 3 min read

David Abbott, the co-founder of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and one of advertising's finest writers, has died aged 75. Designer Michael Wolff laments the passing of one of the industry's most inspirational figures.

When a genius dies it leaves a gaping empty space. Without any doubt the sudden death of Dave Abbott leaves such a space inside me. My heart stopped and my brain ached on hearing the shocking news that he has left us.

David Abbott, photographed by Julian Hanford

Before I met Dave I never realised that brilliant writing can only come from brilliant thinking. Ever since I met Bill Bernbach I understood the power of language, but it was Dave who inspired me to relish and cherish the elegance, simplicity and courageous thoughts that guide the hand of great writers.

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Photography, illustration and writing have long spanned the space between art and commercial communication. There have been, still are and will always be many imaginative and great photographers, illustrators and writers. But great as great can be, it’s only genius that can produce magic and it was magic that Dave’s writing always brought to us.

Dave was one of the most generous, elegant, helpful, modest and inspiring people I had the good fortune to encounter during my working life. Today I feel a boundless sense of loss, sadness and emptiness, and I can only wonder if we will ever see another to equal him.

Michael Wolff co-founded design firm Wolff Olins. He now runs Michael Wolff & Co.

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