The Taiwanes edition of ‘A Clear Dream’ on top of the Dutch edition.
Two weeks ago the Taiwanese edition of my book ‘A Clear Dream’ (Droom van Helderheid) was published as part of the ‘Source series’. It is surprising to see such an interest in Taiwan in the history of Dutch visual identity, modernism and design agencies.
The ‘Source series” is an imprint of Taiwanese designer Wang Zhi-Hong facilitated by Faces Publications. Luckely the print quality of the book seems better then the Chinese edition published last year. It is fascinating to see how Zhi-Hong uses social media to generate interest: the book has already been seen by over 11.000 people on Behance (featured graphic design), and by many more on Tumbler, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The book features a nice cover and a carefully composed layout that to a large degree is based upon the Dutch edition, that was designed by Piet Gerards Ontwerpers. It is not clear whether Zhi-Hong takes note of this.
New York is a nice city, unless you experience it during one of the more severe frost periods of this century. Average day temperature was -6, at night it was -15 degrees Celsius. Earlier I had imagined leisurely walking from my hotel through Central Park to the archive I worked at each day. It now became an slippery and icy adventure! Continue reading →
Sketches for the DOT symbols by Cook & Shanosky (Smithsonian Design Museum). Ca. 1974.
New York was the starting place for 4 interviews and some crucial archive research into the DOT symbols. Perhaps the best interview I had was with Tom Geismar, one of the founding partners of Chermayeff & Geismar, a known US design agency of the 1960. They designed among others the Mobile, Chase, Xerox and National Geographic identity. Interestingly they have a connection with the Netherlands: In the 1960s Total Design, Chermayeff & Geismar and Pentagram co published a book with their logo’s.Continue reading →
Long time no see! It was a very busy November, after which I spent a just as busy December and January in the Netherlands. After a week in Shanghai for some departmental meetings I flew to the US for a 3 week research trip.
From XJTLU I received a small research grant to research the history of the DOT-symbols. These were jointly developed by the American Association of Graphic Designers (AIGA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). These symbols are among the best know public information symbols on the planet and were introduced from 1974 onwards. They are still an inspiration to symbol designers.
So what is on the menu during this trip? Among other things research in the archives of the DOT at the US National Archives in Washington, and research in the archives of the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. Also I have planned interviews with a member of the working group that guided the development of these symbols: Tom Geismar in New York, and interviews with the actual designers; Rajie (Roger) Cook in Pensylvania and Don Shanosky in Florida.
Last weekend I finally went to Tiger Hill. It is perhaps the most famous tourist spot of Suzhou, besides the Humble Administrators Garden. Tiger Hill is few kilometers outside the old mooted city and sits a few hundred meters away from the Grand Canal that runs all the way to Bejing. The road leading to the hill is filled with sellers of street food.
Its main attraction is the Bhudist pagoda that tops Tiger Hill. It stands at an angle and unfortunately you can’t climb it. It is surrounded by many other places of worship and waterworks. Personally I found the Pensai (in the West also known as Bonsai, their Japanese name) garden next to the monastery the most interesting.
Although the Univers might have been the typeface of the future for France, that did not mean there were no other typefaces to be considered. In the beginning of the nineteen sixties the Fonderie Typographique Française (FTF) for example, also brought out the sans serif typeface ‘Caravelle’, or in plain English the ‘caravel’. Continue reading →
In November 1962 FHK Henrion presented an extensive proposal for a new house style to the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM). It was approved of shortly and the house style was introduced from 1963 onwards. KLM’s airplanes, vehicles and publicity materials were given the now familiar blue crown with a plus, balls and a stripe.
Henrion’s presentation was accompanied by a thorough report that was written by him and his close associate Alan Parkin. It is reproduced in full underneath and serves as a striking testament to one of the most successfull British design agencies in the nineteen sixties. Also it builds a convincing case, even today, for the power of good rethorics, visually and textually. Continue reading →
The Imprimerie Nationale in Paris has a history going back to 1538. A few years ago it closed its old central printing works in the centre of Paris. In 1995 I visited their old location with a french friend.Continue reading →