New York: Being there

Central Park

Central Park

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

‘Emerging Practices’ Conference Tongji University


When I first visited Shanghai I returned with a severe food poisoning and got almost stuck on a flooded highway. This time it was a remarkably more comfortable experience. I travelled with a colleague to Tongji University which was the venue for the third Design Research and Education Conference titled ‘Emerging Practices’, attended by circa 100 people.

Keynote lectures from Ken Friedland, Don Norman and Patrick Whitney were transformed into a joint performance. According to Don Norman they did their utmost best in making ‘us feel uncomfortable’. It was a great pleasure seeing them interacting together. New insights? Not that much, that classic product design was going out of the window. . .we knew. Continue reading

Piet Zwart documentary falters

Last year ‘Everything must change’ was released in the Netherlands, a documentary dedicated to designer Piet Zwart (1885-1977). In 2000 he was chosen by the Dutch Design Association (BNO) as the most influential Dutch designer of the 20th century. As to why this is the case, does not become clear from the documentary. Continue reading

Review ‘The Beginning of Chinese Modern Book Design Paradigm’

Zhao Jian, The Beginning of Chinese Modern Book Design Paradigm (1862-1937), People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, 2011. ISBN 978-7-102-05430-8, 26×18.1×1.8, 232 pg.

A year ago a Chinese friend of mine–Mike Liu–sent me The Beginning of Chinese Modern Book Design Paradigm (1862-1937). It was the published doctoral dissertation of Zhao Jian, his former teacher. The images showed a fascinating story about the appropriation of Western influences. And it was literally and metaphorically ‘Chinese’ to me. I could not read it. Continue reading

More textile printed than paper? : a MOTI fact check

Invitation to ‘Graphic Couture’

In February ‘Couture Graphique’ opened at the MOTI (Museum of the Image) in Breda, The Netherlands. It is an exhibition dedicated to the linkage between graphic design and fashion in the 20th century.

Interestingly the invitation for ‘Couture Graphique’ states that these days more textile is printed than paper. That surprises me. Is this really true? What do we know about printed textile and printed paper? Continue reading

Roger Excoffon : FRENCH type designer

Roger Excoffon et la Fonderie Olive

Sandra Chamaret, Julien Gineste, Sébastien Morlighem, Roger Excoffon et la Fonderie Olive [Bibliothèque Typographique], Ypsilon Editeur, Paris 2010. (170-245 mm, 324 pages)

Three years ago Roger Excoffon et la Fonderie Olive appeared. It is dedicated to the typefaces of French designer Roger Excoffon (1910-1983) and Fonderie Olive. Excoffon is best known for his script letters Mistral and Choc, and his characteristic sans serif Antique Olive. I associate him with total and utter Frenchness in a positive way.

As the book cover shows, it carries a avant-propos of my fellow country man typeface don Gerard Unger, exclaiming his admiration for Excoffon. Follows an introduction outlining the history of Fonderie Olive and its relationship with Excoffon. Next stop are nine chapters–written in turn by the authors–dedicated to Excoffon’s typefaces: ‘Chambord’, Vendôme’, ‘Banco’, ‘Mistral’, ‘Choc’, Diane’, Calypso’, Catsilou, Nord, Antique Olive’ and ‘Excoffon Book’. Continue reading

Dutch visual identity history (1960-1975) in bookshops now


As of July 11th Bakkers’ Droom van helderheid : Huisstijlen, ontwerpbureaus en modernisme in Nederland : 1960-1975 (A Clear Dream : Visual Identity, Design Agencies and Modernism in The Netherlands : 1960-1975) is for sale at major booksellers in The Netherlands. Designed by Piet Gerards Ontwerpers (Piet Gerards & Maud van Rossum) the 320 pages book not only tells the history of visual identity in Holland, but also shows it in over 600 images that were carefully selected and lithographed by Wibo Bakker. Unfortunately the book is only available in dutch. An official book presentation is planned for this September at Special Collections at the Amsterdam University Library. Continue reading

Bakker is awarded the ‘Jan van Gelder Prize’ by the Society of Dutch Art Historians

Every year the Society of Dutch Art Historians (VNK) awards the ‘Jan van Gelder Prize’ for an important publication in the field of art history, this means the visual arts, architecture and the applied arts. The prize is meant as an incentive for young and promising Dutch art historians. Continue reading