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"Books by Design 3" Project

Grey Hypocrisy

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Continuing my Quest for the Dull. I did not find any books by the tagwords connected to my previous result: ’Boring’ or ‘Seductive’. Only the third and less subjective ‘Interior Architecture’ gave a match. Though, this match wasn’t the ‘right’ book for me, in the sense that it was maybe too mediocre, but its neighboring book did catch my eye. It looked kind of dull, but at the same time demanded an autonomous authority. Not so dull after all, and therefore forcing me to adapt the definition of my Quest. Perhaps it was the rather small size (15 x 15 cm.), or the textless spine. I realized how the blanco spine is actually quite a sensation in this library, considering that most books contain either a title, some text or other imagery on this part the book. At the same time did this book blend in well with the rest. Just like all other copies, it is plasticized, and then some: front, back, top, bottom – everything drenched in the monotonous clammy layer by the name of adhesive cellophane. A perfect recipe for blending in, at least in the world of books.

Even though this grey square of about 50 sheets of paper could be considered boring, there are a few elements that make this otherwise invisible copy stand out by its demand for adapted care-taking. For example, the thinness of the book made it impossible for the librarian to place the code sticker in its entirety on the spine, the rest of it had to be placed on the cover. I can imagine when doing this job, the irregularity of books like this is quite bothersome. A visual rupture in the repetitive rhythm of the surrounding stickers. Besides, because of this invisibility, it is harder for a person wanting to look up a book only by the code he/she was given by the library’s database. Maybe that’s why I was drawn to it, the code was missing, or at least not visible at first sight. Maybe that’s why this book has this size; it only wants to be noticed by people who don’t follow the code, but choose by its appearance only. A stubborn little fella, this “cDIM Valencia”. Hypocritical even. Its innocent appearance, yet sneaky way of asking for attention.

774.4 cat 17


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Part 1

Library, spines facing you, from every direction. The opaqueness of all this knowledge is overwhelming to put it mildly – your head spins of confusion. The environment breathes an air of calmness, yet great anticipation, as if the myriads of hardbound works of literature and art are eagerly yearning to reveal their insides.

You stand still indecisively – you feel yourself on the narrow interface between on the one hand panic like running down the narrow corridor, to the door, halfway collapsing onto the floor and dying, and on the other hand siting down, indulging yourself in every publication that catches your eye, never leaving.

You regain your grip on reality. You see a bright yellow rectangle in front of you. You reach for it and you look at the front cover.

The cover of Henri Matisse's Jazz

You look at the cover for a solid minute. You like the bright yellow colour and the sturdiness of the cardboard. You look at the image on the cover. Primary colours have always fascinated you immensely. The blue night, the black figure, the yellow stars, and above all the tiny Red Dot as a heart. You are intrigued – you know of this man, Henri Matisse. In your head appear images of bright coloured faces and dancers, composed with mildly crude yet incredibly accurate brush strokes. You also like jazz, and wonder what this book could be about. Filled with curiosity you open it.

The inside of Henri Matisse's Jazz

That’s it. You’re taking this one.

What appears to be a great and interesting book, turns out to be – according to knowledge that you have newly obtained – merely a small, relatively unimpressive excerpt from the original Jazz. Published in German, this small yellow book is actually a book within a book. A book about a book. The middle set of pages are reduced size copies of all images of Jazz. A ten-page introduction preceeds it; succeeding are German translations and a timeline of Matisse’s life. The design of the yellow book is not very striking – minimalist but conservative, done by the publisher. Judging from the looks, the middle part – the excerpt from the original Jazz – is by far the most exciting.

The original is a thick pack of folded paper, twice as wide and twice as high as the yellow booklet you have found in the library. Twenty colour prints, of which fifteen that span two-page spreads are included in the unbound book, together with seventy pages of huge, handwritten cursive text in French.

Marveling at the bright and bursting colours you wonder – How? Why? What does it all mean? You want to find out everything about this book, so you start researching and reading, to learn more about how this artwork came to be. As you learn more and more you suddenly find yourself 74 years in the past, in the south of France.

Part 2

You are now Henri Matisse. It is the summer of 1941, and you are 72 years old. You are living in a suburb of Nice, and you own a nice house with a flowery garden, a big studio and a personal assistant. The gods of health have not been benevolent to you – you were diagnosed with abdominal cancer a few months back, and though doctors have removed the tumour, you suffered from serious complications. You have been on the brink of death for a while, and since then you’ve been only slowly improving. Standing is possible but laborious, so you prefer to lay down on your bed.

Matisse and Assistant

You have tried to pick up painting again, but it is tiring and difficult, and virtually impossible from a laying-down position. Thus, the ultra-creative human being you are, you have invented alternative methods of creating colourful expressions of expressionist effervescence: the cut-out method. Simple but very effective: cut-out pieces of paper, laid on top of each other to create compositions. You have used this technique before when making paintings, but only as an aid to perfect the lay-out, never as a means to an end. Your assistant dyes paper with pure, unmixed gouache and you use scissors to cut them into any shape you want. Easy and less labor-intensive than painting, you really like this method.

Matisse Cutting

You feel that scissors carry way more feeling for line than a pencil or brush ever will. You feel so much more improvisational and spontaneous, and your life after your near-death state feels like an artistic renaissance. You feel like cutting out people, and flowers and trees. Flowers are so amazing to make, since the natural world is not hindered by preconceptions of classical art. As you once famously said:

Nothing in the world is more difficult than painting a rose, since before he can do so, he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.

Full of inspiration, you start to create one, two, twenty collages. You write handwritten text, loosely accompanying the themes of the collages. The text is very big because you feel it is necessary in order to be in a decorative relationship with the colour prints. Your publisher likes the book and wants to print it: 100 copies without text and 250 ‘deluxe’ copies with text. The copies are printed by brushing paint over metal stencils made in the shape of the cut-outs. The paint is the exact same gouache used to dye the paper, so the copies are highly accurate in shape and colour.

Le Toboggan

Page from Jazz: Le Toboggan (The Sled)

The collages depict circus scenes, stories, myths, abstract shapes and personal experiences, in vivid colours and an uninhibited style. The cover displays one of your first collages, the clown, and the title of the book: Jazz. You chose this title because you like jazz, and you think there are parallels with the music on the basis of your unbounded, improvisational and innovative way of working. You consider the previous title, le cirque, not inclusive enough for all the themes the book discusses. In the front of the book you include a ‘table of contents’, an overview of all the collages, with individual titles.

Cover of Jazz

Front and back cover of Jazz

Table of contents of Jazz

Table of Contents of Jazz

The book is received as a wide success and it kick-starts a new stylistic era: the next 12 years, until your death, you will work on more cut-outs. You like the works you have made, though you doubt the artistic quality of the book – you think that the best way of presenting these collages is in their original form: loose pieces of paper, laying on a table in your studio, playful and vulnerable to any gust of wind.

Table The End

Rietveld library catalogue no : mat 17

Process: how to choose an apple?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015




choosing a book without paying attention to the content is like picking an apple based on its skin and form. you never know if the consistence and the taste is reflected by its surface but still you choose it, thinking that the appearance echoes what you want to find inside. this intuitive and impulsive choosing process based on your assimilation faculty, knowledge and cultural education, needs to be done without concession. avoiding everything that incorporates elements which make you doubt is a way to find the precise object that fits your taste. this process can be long but it makes you swim fast through objects and, at the end, allows you to find the right fruit, in which the design and the content are reflecting each other, the materialisation of your desire. this search technique lead me to an old fashioned catalogue issued for an exhibition of herman de vries at the groninger museum in groningen, the netherlands. the book was published in 1980 by the museum itself and is entitled, like the exhibition, “herman de vries, werken 1954-1980”. the design of the book is made by “std suurling treffers designers”. they also came from gronigen and they were, at this time,  the graphic designers of the museum. alongside of working for the museum and being independent designers they were also working at the minerva art academy. nowadays the studio doesn’t exist anymore.


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speaking about the design of the catalogue, the cover appears fragile and at the same time raw, ruff and powerful. the delicate aspect of the book comes from two different components. firstly, the paper used as a protection for the book itself is created by two layers of recycled transparent paper. the weight of times altered the colour of the paper into different shades of beige and adds an antique aesthetic to the object. secondly, in-between this two layers of tracing papers, two real leaves drift with the rhythm of the reader turning the pages. on the website of herman de vries it is said that they came from a western tree called acer campester. strangely the copy from the gerrit rietveld library contains different ones, looking like the leaves of an elm tree, which is really common in the netherlands. we will probably never know, if the artist himself puts different types or if someone lost the original ones and exchanged them. these natural elements encapsulated into the cover protection remind on the origin of paper, namely trees and leaves, and point out that these objects, made for human use, were, first off all, living matter.


Ulmus americana - American ElmAcer campestre - Hedge or Field Maple 5 4


the cover reveals another radical choice: the absence of capital letters. this vacancy occurs in the whole book. most of the time, attributed to the bauhaus ideology of typography, this non-use of capitals could represent the honest approach of the artist herman de vries in his work and his aim to represent nature in it’s purest and simplest form. the first part of the the book, introduced by the director of the groninger museum, frank haks, is mostly composed of texts, essays and poetry by and about herman de vries. the designers chose to create the layout using the aesthetics of a type machine, therefore making use of the typography “courier”. looking at the work of herman de vries, this decision resonates his visual language. the paper being used is another example. it is brown, natural and rough. the second part of the book focuses on showing images of his art works. alongside to this change the paper changes as well. becoming more neutral, it gives the the work all the space needed for expressing itself.


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on the back cover, a curious detail pops up: a red stamp saying “all”. it is hard to understand its visual appearance for different reasons, mainly because it is the first time that we see colour. in addition, the size and the disposition are not fitting with the layout either, they are more strictly constructed. during the research about the artist i came across a video which fulfilled my curiositiy. presenting his exhibition for the biennial of venice, where he was representing the netherlands, herman de vries showed an old mantra printed on a booklet in 1974 in katmandu. the sentence “to be all ways to be” is written in big letters inside of it, the typography and the size are exactly the same as in the book.


11 1998.1.0006(1-36)02_v3


considering the design of this book, it makes a good example for a successful reflection and interaction between the graphic designers and the artist. in this case, herman de vries took part in the making process, adding some characteristics of his own work to the cover. the catalogue therefore got a handcrafted look and gives the impression to handle something rare and authentic. the aesthetic choice demonstrate the graphics designer’s respect for the artist and merge the book with the world of de vries. a bridge is created, giving the book the aura of an artwork.

Rietveld library catalog no : vri 7


Shapes, Space and Harmony

Monday, November 30, 2015

I tried to let my mind be open for new impressions during my selective process. My main goal was to find something that inspires me. Something that I can relate to but still find exciting in a new, different way. I also wanted to find a book with well thought out typography. So I can learn from it. Analyze it and break it down. Pick it apart like an engine.

At first, all the showcased works by students caught my attention and I started going though them. Although many of the works were inspiring—I felt like I had more to see before making a final choice. I started to drift towards industrial design. The aesthetics were nice, with a lot of grids and furniture covering the front pages. But the typography that I was looking for was missing. At last I found a book called “The Future Issue” next to the industrial design section. At first glance, the typography of the cover really struck me. It was well designed, set in black and white, in a balanced layout. I opened the book and saw that it was designed by Laurenz Brunner. He’s known to me from before and an interesting designer, the choice was easy.


Foto 2015-11-24 18 38 12_2

The Future Issue—Vol. III



In 2007 the first volume of “The Most Beautiful Swiss Books” was released. This catalog is the first part of the Back to the Future Trilogy. “The Future Issue” which I found, is the third volume. In order to learn about the design I decided to go back and start with taking a look at the first catalog to see how the design has developed. All three volumes are designed by Laurenz Brunner. A composition of several colorful images are covering the front page. The title “The Past Issue” is written across the center of the cover. The images are positioned in a way so their corners touch each other. Connecting them together, almost creating a spiral effect. I like the fact that it also creates a clear hierarchy among the images. The cover feels well balanced yet without losing tension. Some of the images are rotated. It helps breaking up the square layout and also makes it more difficult for the eye to see the pictures individually. Instead we focus on the whole picture and get the impression of a playful yet organized layout.


Foto 2015-11-24 18 59 00_1

The Past Issue—Vol. I


The second volume in the series, “The Present Issue”, has a similar cover. Yet again we see a composition consisting of colorful images. Although this time, the layout is much more organized. Every image contain the same size, and no one is rotated. They are positioned in a grid, spanning from every corner to the center, also connected by the corners. The titled is allowed much more focus—being set in a larger weight, in a bright red color. On the contrary, the title lose readability as the words are rotated. By comparing the two covers you easily spot the similarities and the differences. It is almost like they are reversed. On “The Past Issue” the images are allowed freedom and the typography is kept minimal. Creating a playful layout. While on “The Present Issue”, the images are static and the typography is allowed freedom. Filling the same function as the images on the previous cover.


Foto 2015-11-24 18 51 09_1

  The Present Issue–Vol. II


Lets jump forward in time and look at the cover of “The Future Issue” (Vol. III). The first you notice is that it does not look anything like the previous volumes. First of all the front page is completely covered in black. Second, there is no images. Only text. Despite this time, an illustration is also covering the page. The numbers in 2009 are spread out in a square with a loose spiral connecting them together. For me the cover feels much more mysterious and cryptic than the two previous ones. It’s atmosphere also works better with the title. The future is something that is unknown to us. Something that lies completely concealed in darkness. The spiral also emphasizes the mysterious vibe and makes me think of space. Which is also something that is very unexplored for us.


Foto 2015-11-24 18 38 12_3Foto 2015-11-24 18 38 40_2




All three catalogues are set in Circular. Which is a geometric sanserif created by Laurenz Brunner himself. In 2004 he released his first typeface LL Akkurat which shortly became very popular. After it’s success he created Circular which is inspired by Paul Renner’s classical typeface Futura. Both typefaces has a purely geometric approach and a balance between functionality and idiosyncrasy. Circular also possess a recognizable character yet a universal appeal. The geometrical shapes became the representative elements of the Bauhaus design style and you can clearly see the influences in Circular and “The Most Beautiful Swiss books” series. The simple use of color also draws inspiration from the past, working only with red, green and blue. The layout and the typography of the series are simple. Designed in a minimalist way with high readability. Titles set in a clear hierarchy and text set in either two or four columns.


Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 01.11.25Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 01.10.27



The way Laurenz Brunner is working with the typography connects the individual catalogs in a clear energetic way. All based on the previous one but with another layer added to it. The design varies but always with the same principles in focus. Laurenz Brunner’s fine harmony between tradition and modernism creates a design that I find engaging and timeless, in a very intriguing way. Function always in mind but set in a contemporary way.

Below you can find some pictures showcasing the typography from all three issues.


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Foto 2015-11-24 18 51 51_1


Foto 2015-11-24 18 51 51_1Foto 2015-11-24 18 56 13_1

Rietveld library catalog no : 758.3 swi 2009


Monday, November 30, 2015



Rammstein in Contemporary Book-Design


Daniel van der Velden, the man, the genius, the mystery… in terms of designing a series of publications collecting highly
eloquent essays on uprising tendencies and phenomena in contemporary culture, what can you expect from a man giving you this look:




as he plays the song “Du Hast” by the German band Rammstein on his iPhone 6 to introduce himself prior to a lecture on his work – A whole lot in my opinion.


My research is dealing with a book that was designed by this very man – the mastermind behind Metahaven, an Amsterdam based design and research studio whose work in a way couldn’t be more contemporary. A typical Metahaven design usually even exceeds the expectations of contemporary in its extroverted way of layering and heavy usage of political and economical iconography. The result often is a somewhat futuristic, hardly readable, almost autonomous graphic. A work of art in which a mysterious overflow of visual content makes the purpose of providing information seem of secondary interest. There is a feeling of playfulness to a lot of Daniel’s graphic designs that on first sight does not leave the impression of being the product of a structured research and design process.


You will agree when looking at a few examples…



032c_doppelseiten_032c_26.indd tumblr_myc2z1trxy1qeg0aeo1_900




My personal analysis: the literal overflow of visual information is to be understood as a representation or comment on the way we perceive information through new mediums in the digital age. In our globalized day and age one is confronted with an overwhelming amount of text and images simultaneously, overwhelming to such an extent that the core of the singular information often gets lost before being processed and saved by its recipient. In that way it makes sense to think of Metahaven’s design as a ‘political instrument’, a term used by the studio itself, emphasizing the important role spreading information digitally has played in recent political uprisings and hinting at the potential the field of design has as a means of communication.



A Reason for the Black Label




The design of the publication I chose to do my research on doesn’t make use of this ‘visual overflow’-technique at all and is therefore hardly recognizable to be designed by Metahaven – this makes the preceding introduction more or less unnecessary. Instead of multi-layering of various typefaces there is “only” one layer of text in a font that at first sight seems to be Times New Roman – just one layer of black text in a traditional lay out giving only the basic information of the title of the book and its author on a relatively neutral background. One would normally not call this blurry smudge of pink and orange ‘relatively neutral’ but we are talking about Metahaven here and in this context, metaphorically speaking, the design feels a bit like going to church



In search of the chaotic element, the signature of Metahaven on the cover page of the book, I stumbled upon this obscurity…
Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 15.58.27


There it was – the definitive reason for my choice. At last a sign, a seemingly random element – The black label. A bar-like shape on the bottom right corner framing the front page of the publication adding a sense of mystery to the picture. When finally opening the book I felt confirmed of my selfishly made up theory that every Metahaven design was constructed, following an illogical master plan based on a very personal philosophy that is escaping a conventional approach of communicating by introducing the ungraspable – communication through exclusion. As a matter of fact the black label can be found on every single page of the book except for the back cover.
28738-Web_IMG_0588 25472-Web_IMG_0586 28573-Web_IMG_0582



Imagine going to a concert of one of your musical icons. After having lost a bit of distance and respect due to the mediocrity of the concert experience you feel brave enough to approach the artist himself and ask him about the essence of his work. In the following case this mediocrity was actually more a product of bad preparation and incredibly flat interviewing rather than a bad performance of the man himself – but you should always make best use of your more self-confident moments.

When approaching Daniel after a lecture on Metahaven’s new publication ‘Black Transparency’ I wasn’t too sure about what kind of answers I could expect from this larger than life character and if he was even in the mood of explaining the artistic decisions he made in the process of designing ‘institutional Attitudes’. (By the way the book is part of a series of publications, which is why I consciously decided not to speak about the content in this essay.) After a while of awkwardly standing next to him while he was signing all the publications people had bought I found the moment to ask him my three definite questions:


Times New Roman? Really?


Why the psychedelic smudge of color?


What is the reason for this?

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 15.58.27



There is something relieving but tragic about the moment you find out your romanticized idols are actually rational people who have solid reasons for what they do and how they do it.


The font used for the Antennae Series is a rare variation of the Times used to set a fitting stage for the serious approach the series has to the subject of recognizing contemporary tendencies in art, culture and politics.


The Aesthetics of the background images are the result of researching images from thermo-graphic cameras, which are directly related to the subject of the Antennae. In this case Antennas are understood as objects that search and recognize information in their environment.


The Black Label is nothing but a library label, a combining element of the series to make the single publications more recognizable.  🙁

Rietveld library catalog no : 700.4 gie 2


Illegal emotions

Monday, November 30, 2015


    Always when i have to choose a book, i will try to find one that feels nice when i touch it. I prefer softer over the heavy ones. When i held ”The Shape Of Evidence” in my hands, i thought the cover was the most interesting part of it. It has a soft cover, it is comfortable to hold and it resembles the skin of sphinx cat.
    I chose ”The Shape Of Evidence” by Sophie Berrebi because this september one of my friends invited me to the book presentation in the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten, but i did not go. However, I am still interested in the role of the document, the archive and the museum in today’s culture.


    It surprised me later to find out that the designer of the book is Sam de Groot, i had heard his name before, but i had not heard about his graphic design work. Last year, i went to his concert in ”Butchers Tears” and became a big fan of his music he’s been making lately and today, even yesterday. He is part of a Londom/Amsterdam hip-hop duo and he makes the instrumentals for the group. Sam de Groot and Paul Haworth make music and lecture-performance pieces. You can also hear their music on the Red Light Radio (do not miss next concert with the new album ‘Illegal emotions’ in Berlin in the early of next year. I hope they can make it!).
     I thought that a person who makes such a cool music must be cool with everything he does. It is true, i swear. De Groot has also published books under his True True True imprint, which evolved out of his experience of translating and producing the English edition of Nescio’s Little Titans. For a relatively short period of operation, True True True has produced a small yet substantial body of work, ranging from translations to original novels and audio work, developing a unique genre of comedy—typographic or otherwise. This combination as a writer and a publisher has resulted in three short novels produced through True True True (Silk Handkerchiefs, Alone Desperate And Going Nowhere and Andy De Fiets: letters to Robin Kinross). Sam de Groot graduated from the graphic design department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam, in 2008. Since then, he has been working as a freelance designer for cultural clients. As I realized later, Sam De Groot is a proud member of the Rietveld Preservation Society. Every Monday he teaches typography students of the graphic design department. 
     I asked him what helps to be so productive. The answer was: ’’I am productive because I like to work and I say yes to many things, which then forces me to deliver’’. He has several interesting design commissions coming up and he holds and directs many workshops. “That keeps me busy enough. I would like to free up more time for music”
In addition, Sam de Groot was a member of the Typojanchi 2013, Seoul International Typography Biennale. In his works Sam tried making something archetypical, anonymous, without mimicking anything specific. He dislikes posh, bibliophile ‘literary’ aesthetics.


     The Shape of Evidence, was the first book in a series, so design for it was made for the whole series, not just for this book in particular. Originally the series was going to be set entirely in the typeface Windsor and the publisher liked it. Despite that the author of the first book of the series, however, really objected to use the typeface with the reason that it did not seem serious. Therefore, Sam had to find something new that would please everyone. What he love about Windsor [x] is that it is so rich in curves and contrast – much richer than the average typeface. In the end he went for a more conventional typeface that still has a lot of idiosyncratic shapes (Eldorado [x]).
He aimed to reinforce this visually unique feature with the exaggerated bottom/outer margins and the non-straight lines that are used for chapter titles, etc. The strategy was to find unusual aesthetics that could still work in a respectable academic context. To explain about typefaces of ‘The Shape of Evidence’ I would like to mention Tariq Heijboer who also graduated Gerrit Rietveld Academie. He created the SKI DATA typeface [x], working with the words, ‘ski’ and ‘data’ what gave him the idea of representing counter-balance. There are two different weights, horizontal and vertically stretched.
The typeface was used by Sam de Groot when he was designing The Shape of Evidence. It was the first title in Vis-à-vis, a new series of books published by Valiz [x]. Valiz is a young company which was established to respond developments in contemporary art, photography, architecture and design in a broad-based and imaginative way. The main focus is on the composition, editing and quality of the text and images.

   I was really happy to work on this assignment because i have a joy of good music in my heart and beauty of good graphic design in my eyes. And this is one more example of how small our world is.

Oh so queer

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Queer-Zines-Box-Set queer_zines_manystuf

Choosing a book

At first it took me a while to even figure out how to find books in the library. All these numbers, letters and no (in my opinion) logical order. So after asking everyone around how they found their book i started to get a grip of the system and chose Queer zines 2.

I walked around, touched, sniffed and saw many many books before my eyes were drawn to the bright colors of this publication. Off course the title spoke to me, although i should not admit that, because in this case i was focusing my research on the design and not the content. Also the fact that these books where in this boring brown cardboard, organic looking box didn’t really made sense to me. These bright interesting neon colors in combination with this organic, trendy box.

When I started looking through the books it looked quite familiar to me. So I dug deep in my memories and remembered all these great queer magazines that i once saw at a exhibition in ‘Witte de With’ Rotterdam. It was old-school, bright, daring and they had a really nice Punky/queer (obviously) design. I remember really liking them. Off course this convinced me to work with this new more modern version of queer zines. Just because i became curious if it could give me that same almost rebellious feeling.

02 AA Bronson & Philip Aarons@

Who made the books

After the last unsold queer zines books were blown away by the American super storm Sandy in 2012, the staff of queer zines found an opportunity to create a better and improved version of the book. The first edition of the book was put together very simple and fast, done by Garrick Gott. They also hired him the second time and in both cases they gave this graphic designer total freedom in whatever he felt was the good decision for the book.

GarrickGott_at-home-with-Koh_250 R-2503151-1287574918.jpeg

Garrick Gott’s studio is based in New York city. The studio focuses on the design and production of fine printed matter. A large portion of the work is illustrated books and catalogs for arts and cultural clients. These can be individual artists, designers, non-profits. But also galleries, museums, institutions and publishers. At this moment Garrick Gott is working on also including film titles and posters in his practice.

Apart from this and the people he worked with I could not find much about Garrick. I did find some interesting details about his marriage and relationships. Garrick Gott is married to Terence Koh, an canadian (born in bejing) artist. Garrick gott is very much involved in the gayscene and this is also why he worked with Queerzines.

If i look at Garrick Gott’s graphic design I see trendy, clean graphic design. I see a lot of bright colors, interesting fonts, and a lot of white. He plays with color, and different kinds of paper (using see through plastic in stead of regular paper he creates new compositions.) I’m trying to put my finger on what it is in his work that does not really speak to me. And I think it has to do something with the fact that if i look at his website, it looks like almost every graphic design website I had to research on my last school, which was graphic design on practical level, and those are just about being commercial. On the other hand I really like what he did to Queer zines, so that brings me to the next point.

antenne.books.queer-zines-second-edition_2 ipp

The design

Let’s take a objective look at the book(s) itself. At first i see a brown cardboard box with a naked man silk screened on top of it. The man is printed in white so it is a bit hard to get a clear picture of him.

You can already see the spines of the bright neon colored books inside the box. We see bright pinks and bright blue colors. If we take the books outside of the box we have two of the same size books in front of us. One in pink and blue and one in orange and blue. Both books are covered on both sides with big images of naked or almost naked men.
If we look through the book you will notice that the whole content is printed in the same dark blue color. Which in my opinion works really well because it brings all these different queer zines together like they are one (and I think that’s the point of this bundle). The fonts change from a typewriter font to a thicker helvetica like font. Sometimes Garrick Gott plays with the fonts of the zines that are on the pages itself.
The images are places in and outside of the columns that Garrick Gott works with. There are pictures, scans, covers and whole articles placed in the book. Some are just really interesting to look at (it’s nice to see the different time and culture in the book) and some need some explanation (which is given). And there are also a lot of interesting interviews shown.
All placed in an interesting way that will keep your attention and will take you further into this rebellious scene.



The content

The content of these books are all the queer zines bound together into these bright color books. I like the way Garrick Gott organized the magazines in such a way that they tell you a story about this queer scene. The book takes you back in time and while reading it i think we all imagine ourselves living in this open minded, rebellious, anarchist way of living.
Now that I read the book, having seen the zines in real, I still like the real ones better. But this is because I have seen them in colour and now these are becoming reproduced pictures of persons, creating an image of a certain time and scene. I think you need color to stretch the real picture. Instead of a blue print picture.

I enjoyed studying this book. It is totally in my area of interest and even though I thought Garrick Gott’s graphic design is a bit trendy. I really admire what he did to this book. The more I looked at it the more I discovered.

Rietveld library catalog no : 708.4 bron 1


Element, Fifteen

Saturday, November 28, 2015

15-elements_cover2 15-elements_side 15-elements

front of box • side • 15 elements

When I first saw this book..
I thought that books always have similar size and shape before I see this book. For example, a book is made of one piece and has only one cover. When I saw this book at first, I do not know the series are a book that has one package. Also, I liked different colours in a black package and these books have diverse design and layouts. And I discovered that she used only small letters on the package and covers. I guessed small letters mean elements than capital letters. Moreover, when you open the book, you can see two pagination on the top and  under the page. I am not sure that I guessed a number on the top of a page is a pagination of one element(a book of series) and another under the page means a pagination of all elements(15 series). This is because second number start to 100 and finish to1500.  Actually, this book’s contents are very difficult and boring to reader since it deal with the history of architectural elements, the technical and social developments where they come from but this book design helps to vent. In addition, I could see really different layouts each book because these books have very diverse compositions to almost pages. So, it seems like I read a book but it is not a book.


Venice Architecture Biennial

Design of this book..
Title of the book is ‘ elements’ designed by Irma Boom. This book is a series about architecture and the series is consisted of 15 books about 15 elements of architecture. It means this book is not one but it becomes the one as a black package. You can know what is the elements as seeing the 15 book’s titles. Also, you can find how did she show the ‘elements’ in design because it has 15 different titles, colours, books and contents. It is really interesting to me since she gave how to use the book’s title and concept as design. I realised that dividing a book is really effective for showing a small title. The book has 16 titles that is one big title and 15 small titles and you can see 15 elements before open the book ; floor, wall, ceiling,roof, door, window, facade, balcony, corridor, fireplace, toilet, stair, escalator, elevator, ramp. This book was made for the Venice Architecture Biennale by Rem Koolhaas.

Who is Irma Boom..
Irma boom is a Dutch graphic designer and she makes a book more special. This is her website. She has made over 300 books and her books are exhibited in New York City(MoMA). She is very famous designer internationally and she has lectured at Yale University in the USA. Also, she has been awarded a lot and worked as a critic. This is her website.

How does she make a book..
I was wondering when she make a book, how to approach, get a concept and develop. This means process of making a book. I was looking for some interviews(1, 2) for knowing her and her books. She said “Everything revolves around the development of a good idea; everything else – buying paper, production – are skills that one might or might not have, but the concept is what makes a project succeed or fail.” And she does not approach books like a product designer does. She said “I really approach books for what they are, as books, turning the pages. The object. Sometimes I see books, and I think it could have been a PDF. The regular book is not alive anymore. You can put it on a PDF on the internet, or on a Kindle or iPad, and it’s the same. But my books are something else. They have to be this three-dimensional object. Somebody once said that I’m building books. I really like that expression very much. ”

To sum up, I could realise that a book can evoke a lot of interests by design because I have saw books that made to similar size, techniques and feelings. I agree her opinion that her books are remained as three-dimensional objects because her books are truly special. For example, ‘Biography in Books’ is immensely small and thick. When you see the book in the internet or iPad, you can not feel this shape. Although this book is tiny, it gave very strong feeling to me when I saw. In addition, this is another example. Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor. This book on the work of textile designer Sheila Hicks. You can see different feelings when you touch the book even surface of the book. This means she just did not use the photos in the book and she made to feel real. So, she won the Gold Medal for the “Most Beautiful Book in the World” Prize given at the Leipzig Book Fair through this book. She does not apply the same style in everything when she makes a book. Moreover, searching about Irma Boom was really interesting since her books had very diverse design. I thought books will be able to disappear at one time except some specific books and be produced a small quantity. There were some intriguing points to me in her interview because Irma Boom and interviewers talked about digital books in her some interviews.

Sheila Hicks

Book number(Rietveld library) _ 710.4 bien 14 lll

that we said, applies

Friday, November 13, 2015

For me it was always easy to come to the quick conclusion THAT if it was about something interesting, it would effect the design on the book automatically. Maybe because it’s true, and therefore I only reached out to books that looked appealing to me, indirectly confirming a satisfaction about the content.

But having to choose a book on it’s look as an assignment put my mind in a different light. Books suddenly looked different to me, and it backfliped reversed on me, and I found myself standing with a book, that I ironically chose only from it’s contents.

Try again.


I went to the library alone this time, isolated in my own mind I tried a different approach towards the books. Found it. A book that had a picture I found interesting for a cover. A women screaming at some boring conference. Something real is on her mind. the outside cover is a real photograph, continuing onto the back of the book reveling more boring conference room and people reacting to the woman in a social intelligent environment. This I found appealing, to see a book simply being wrapped in a powerful picture. For me this confirms the insignificance of all styling or additional details added, when it comes to the matter of the content of a book. This brings seriousness and action to the mind, which again is reflected on the motive of the picture.

So what WAS happening in the picture? What could possibly be so wrong or mind boggling that you would have to stand up in a crowd and make a fool of yourself to such length that words or arguments is pushed aside leaving the raw fight of shouting, only for the sake of proving something wrong?

This got my attention and I wanted to search more about this exact situation. How hopeless was this situation?

digging a bit inside of the book led me to the photographer providing this picture. Berlin photographer florian Braun took it, but not under the circumstances i had originally thought.

the picture shows part of a performance by Aernout Mik from september 2013 at haus der kulturen der welt, Berlin. A staged photo using actors in a fake scenario.

Florian took the picture for he was his set photographer during that performance.

This founding immediately made me happy, and I was hit by a feeling of being deceived by a cover, and let my thoughts go towards, not believing in everything that looks real. It might as well just be a picture from an artist who specializes in making “conference gone wrong” sceneries.

Which is exactly what this book is about.



Besides the raw message of the photo covering this book there are other features that triggered my design sense.  The long title that is almost a little poem in itself, made me want to read it with care, and left me a bit confused, which matches the content pretty well. The text is put in a blue semi transparent box, associating that color to the concept of adding a comment onto an existing happening. This color is the only color applied to the pages, and can be some sort of guidance or forever rightful manifestation of research. Even the side of the book has that blue colored text, underlined, as a well known web link to “get further”. Opening the book reveals a whole page of just that deep blue color. Pure treat.

Shown in the picture below is the color. Not used as text but to fill out an area on a picture in the book. The only place in the book where the color is used in a picture or illustration. A nice unexpected mix with the content.


 What I also liked was the size of the book. About the size of a hand, and an inch thick. For me, this gives an intimate feel of holding the book tightly, and it made me want to treat it as a handy everyday object. I gives associations to a classic on-the-go bible. But without the shiny cover with a divine picture of jesus himself.   useful, not styled or fancy. speaking of non fancy things, inside the book is an incorporated story, shown in simple and fun overhead projector dias show inventing a graphic page consisting on mostly black background. Also you have to flip the book too see it right, but that seems easy thanks to the size and hands on feeling the book is providing.

IMG_2702 IMG_2703


I found it interesting that some chapters in the book is pages that has been scanned. These pages have comments and corrections, leaving a raw and hectic reading material. This is a historic previous example of what this book is centered about.  Being critic and direct about a serious matter if it means something to you.  Letting the reader decide what to read into and what to just swallow as written.. Shown though design and symbolic features this book really enhances new curiosity of reading presented material, and take a physic hands on part by turning and twisting your way though.


Retracing, I swear I use no art at all

Friday, November 13, 2015


I enter the space and I know my mission.
I know that Today is my lucky day.
I’m heading up for something that interests and feels good to me, only one item is required.
It is an especially pleasing and reassuring occasion because I know what this place could do to me.
I love and hate this place.
As an example I know that I don’t know much, and this, adding a bit of curiosity, could keep me here for a couple of days.
Entering here I am well aware that words can trick, seduce, redeem or amaze people.
I remember that words are doors, that books are sleeping souls and that this open graveyard was once compared to a labyrinth, which indeed it is a sneaky way to describe a prison.
But today I’m blind from any content and this is my luck.
Thousands words laying down like disarmed soldiers, sleeping giants.
I’m blind and that’s the reason why I am wandering between bookshelves touching each spine, trying to use a different sense.

In this way I find the book, or the book shows itself to me.
Only by touching I read its title.
I open it  and I  feel the ink on its pages, the different kinds of paper used. It seems an attempt to remember something lost,it presents pictures in various format, it looks like dialogue between material. I still don’t know what this lost message is, after there is a text that I have not read yet. Anyway I am going to explore it now, trying to retrace it.


Artist Rein Jelle Terpstra,
Book Retracing
Publisher Post Editions
Design, Studio Joost Grootens

17:45 12-11-2015

I am starting my research, I flipped twice every page of the book, still haven’t read the few written pages at the end. I am not doing so because I think it will probably be a sort of description of the work, and I would rather focus on the first part.
Like when facing a magician, you don’t want to know the trick from the beginning.
As well I want to keep being blind all those words cause this is why I choose this book, my research method.
Within its covering major capitals that protrudes through the grey linen cover, I can feel a dialogue, and I want to follow to it carefully.
It seems we are facing double track, series of thick deeply back matte pages are followed by glossy, light and shining ones, it is such for all the length of the book.
I figure out that the big thick black pages depict what it must have been a slideshow projection.
In the dark of the room you can recognize the size of 35mm colour film slides projected on a wall, in the background emerge some objects like a desk and a chair. I have no clue what this slideshow is about, the diapositives depict snowy landscapes, flowers, tables.
The photos seems unrelated and the only thing I can feel is a taste as nostalgia and loneliness.
After few pages, this dark thick and deep side crash against a bright, clean and light one.
This new part is showing also some 35mm diapositives, but this time, thanks to the properties of the paper and the print, the images are clear and easy to watch. Still they are presented as part of a slideshow, and sometimes images are cut in half, leaving a white space before or after them.


For the whole length of the books these two part keep switching, dark and light pages alternate themselves, here you can see how.
If content of the pictures seems random I notice that the photos of one section reappear in the other, the slideshow must be about these 35 mm presented in the white side. My feelings are now confused. I feel like facing a reality (each photo) and being driven from a clear to a dark side of it continuously, as if we were inside a paradox,or like facing a duality a transition.
Like going form consciousness (white and clear pages) to oblivion (dark and blurry ones),from reality to memory.
All images show familiar, personal or peculiar places. I don’t know why the author made this double track, I don’t know why these and not other photos are in it and I don’t know why in this order. I need to know more, I wish I know more.

02:21 16-11-2015

I read the end of the book, everything sounds so funny to me now.
I discover why the book was and is so special to me, why I did chose it and indeed why I was so confused by the way is designed.
As described in the internet “Retracing’ is part of a wider investigation into perception, memory, photography, and the possibility of imagelessness. Rein Jelle Terpstra is working with people who are about to lose their eyesight. He has photographed images that are valuable to them on Kodachrome slides, with the promise to describe the prints after a few years very carefully in words, in an attempt to invoke the images in their heads through language. Earlier Terpstra made a slideshow installation with multiple projectors in which the light images of ‘Retracing’ slowly blend”.
The book that I chose blindly turned out being made for blind people, and it’s content try to describe how an image can disappear.
It simulate how our memories work but it is also an the attempt to save them. In fact Rein chose to make visible something impossible to visualize, to describe the process of disappearing while at the same time reverting it. She crystallize memories in order to give them back to their owner, to change the destiny of a memory while showing us how it can and does fade.
I said it sounded so funny to me because in a cynical way I think that my choice couldn’t be more natural.
Retracing came to me because of my research method, but the real magic lay in the fact that its design has been able to translate the content of the book into a material form. The design of the book, starting from its cover, where the letters of the title are almost invisible and only “vaguely looms out at a certain incidence of light”. The cover already speak about its content starting a tautological circle, the thickness and the quality of the paper, different for different papers and its printing methods.
Every element sustains the concept behind the books giving it a physicality.
Every detail is a confirmation  of the central statement and it strengthen its power.
I wish I know more about who designed the book, I know that his name is Joost Grootens, that he lives in Amsterdam and that following what internet says should look like this:



01:32 18-11-2015
I still think how nice it is that a book can speak in so many ways.
For example  I have always appreciate old books, probably because you can feel that somebody (and not something) made it.
You can feel that the personal touch overcome its production, and I can wonder how much work and attention is behind every page.
In this way the page itself is becoming a medium behind the text or the information it is presenting. It feels that reading while touching such a book goes beyond its text.

22:24 19-11-2015
Today we had a meeting regarding our researches. I had more info regarding Grootens, for the entire meeting I had in my hands another book he designed, actually his own book, designed by himself for himself,
and it is GREAT.
I realize I should start a new post regarding this book but I will just say some words about “I SWEAR I USE NO ART AT ALL, 10 years, 100 books, 18788 pages of book design”, (in short ISIUNAAA).


First of all, it seems to me as the most rational and efficient work-related autobiography one can person can eventually make, for what I saw so far at least. In it are described all the works Joost made in the last 10 years, first presenting various charts regarding how his projects evolved, with whom, when and how.
As well he show a timeline about how each book or project was connected with others, describing why they were made or how they started, he present a map of the different studios where he worked, which and how many different kind of paper he used, all the kinds of binding methods, typeface, pictogram, pattern, grid and colour he chose for each book.
Here I decide to post some of these schemes and charters to make my amusement understandable.

no-art-at-all-crop-09 no-art-at-all-crop-07 no-art-at-all-crop-04 no-art-at-all-crop-10

The book is a masterpiece of order and functionality, but without losing an intriguing physical effect.
As for RETRACING the book can speak for itself about itself without the use of words, intact in the last part Joost present some samples of the 18788 pages he made, but with a trick. He reverse the order of each page so where it should be written “apple” you will read  “elppa”, this on order to make the reader look at the design without the possibility of reading its content.

00:35 23-11-2015
I found myself thinking a lot about ISIUNAAA,and I am amazed about the attention the author placed in his book, as for the control he has over it and the power of a systematical method. I think Grootens must love his work and in his book his passion manifests powerfully. RETRACING is a vivid example of it and ISIUNAAA is its symbol. It is like an old book, the attention in making it help to create a new channel of communication.

3:09 30-11-2015
It is more than a week that I am collecting memories about the book I saw only for one afternoon.
In the last week I went to the city looking for Grootens magical book, no one has it but I finally found it in Denmark.
It arrived yesterday and I can’t escape from it.
This is the end.
My research end with the beginning of a new one.
I had one more proof how much books are powerful, how much they can speak depending on how much attention they received while making them. I understand that an almost maniacal approach can be useful if it explores carefully the possibility to best way for express an idea and I intend to use this approach for my future researches.
It is important to remember that the focus and attention in the phisical presentation of a work is essential for increasing its power and strength. I am very glad all this happen, I am glad RETRACING pushed me to RETRACE, claiming awareness screaming beneath an almost invisible but powerful surface.

Rietveld library catalog no : ter 1


You’ve got a new message

Thursday, November 12, 2015

please 1 please 8

Please come to the show : the title is calling your attention.

HAVE A LOOK AT THE BOOK ( clic on : look inside )


«I’m inviting you to see my work.»


By that invitation, an artist is offering you a dialogue, a direct form of exchange. It’s becoming personnal, between the two of you. As if you were starting a conversation at this very moment and that will be continued at the exhibition.

Sending. Receiving. Answering ?

Artist. Postal service bridge. Audience.


A first visual step before you see the works, something to give you the curiosity to want to encounter it. By this piece of paper, an interaction is created. The showing process is a way of meeting and making a message resonating through people.

Please come to the show’; what a calling, yes of course I will. 

If the show is in that book, yes of course I will open it.


Because this is what it is all about in here : an archive of exhibition-related ephemera, which means ‘all the printed productions that go along with exhibiting’. All that pages are a tribute to the museum’s memory, an exploration of the ways of inviting people to experience art from the early 1960s to today. As an archaeologist, you dig into the stratified sampling of cultural communication.

Ephemera production relate to a specific time lapse : it gives a physical form to a moment. A moment that is coming or that is already passed. That direct way of seeing the setting and spirit of artist’s practices illustrate range diverse artistic activities. It makes a connection between the artworks and the viewing of it. As a window it enhances it, it disguises it or it gives a really good and simple viewing of it. It is at the same time an experience of the artworks just as much as the art piece in itself.


The information’s display builds a context, a fantasy of the event. The main goal is to attract people, to fan the flame of their curiosity.  We are talking about a place, a day ; the basic information that an invitation gives. Then the display of the words, the image, the size, the paper are adding a specific aspect to the message. Making it unique and appealing .

All this invitation production can be affiliate to the postal art way of thinking. What can you send by post? Basically everything if it is stamped enough and the receiver’s address is readable. The possibilities are rich and various. It is a way to make ideas travel and thoughts physical.  The communication is becoming visible, translated in an object. I’m nostalgic for that thing that we almost never experience : receive an invitation card by post or from someone . It looks much more personal than the new trend of mail-invitations or Facebook yes/like-it/no, I’m coming.  My letter box stays frighteningly empty with that surge of creativity.




« The show looked back at the genre of the printed invitation in the midst of this technological watershed point – which has made it really hard to remember how people communicated in the not-so-distant past. 

During the last five years or so (or maybe it has been a decade?) it’s a regular occurrence to get notices from galleries or institutions announcing the end of their program of printing invitations. 

The example above comes from Brazil – a gallery named Galeria Fortes Vilaca. It has stayed on my desk for a couple of years as a particularly handsome example of the genre. In hindsight, I wish I did a better job at collecting more of these announcements.» 

David Senior MOMA bibliographer and editor of the book


If it’s important to collect and record this kind of production to keep trace of the artistic evolution, it has to become interactive. That is the goal of making a book : let the people use the archive in an active way.

In a formal way the book is an example of how to present an archive in such a way to put emphasis on their impacts, influences and the way they are interconnect.  The display is giving an other layer or makes easy the analysis of the collection process.



please 3  please 5please 2

As the book is a collection of communication medium it’s full of type, there is a lot to see and to read in the images but every thing is breathing on the white background. And there is no text to guide the images, which are free to express themselves. If you need to know more, all details are indexed at the end. No information overdose.

Every page is different; sometimes one image occupies a full page, then there are five images on the same. They are talking to each other, getting into some friction. The eye is jumping from one to another, navigating in the words flow.

Comparing, gathering, opposing.

please 6 please 7

You will come across some famous names of Arts History, making them close and alive. Connecting your art theory book knowledge with some other people real life memories.

In between some green interlude with food for the mind, text becomes more theoretical thoughts about the exhibition, focusing on particular examples and anecdotes about the theme. It enhances some specifics angles of the example and gives various tracks to look at it.

Looking, breathing, thinking.


Texte / image / image / image / image / image / image / image / image/ image / image / image / image / Texte / image / image / image / image / image / image / image / image/ image / image / image / image / / Texte / image / image / image / image / image / image / image / image/ image / image / image / image / Texte.


The graphic design of the book is looking for balance in the elements.
Make it simple, legible but not boring.


This book please to the show is part of Sara de Bondt and Anthony Hudek imprint Occasional Papers. A non profit publisher that is developing a collection of affordable publications focusing on various cultural research subject.

Make the reflexion accessible in the understanding and in the object.

In her works she talks of deconstruction, using and transforming the basics rules of graphic design. She is also talking about the uniqueness of a piece and the correlation between the context and the design.


A book about communicative printed objects are a poetic way of looking at history. It is an alternative way to think about what happens in arts. As someone who is working in the art field, ‘Please Come to the Show‘ is opening reflections on how you are sharing your works, the multiplicity of communication possibilities that are accompanying an exhibition .

Rietveld library catalog no : 700.4 sen1

Marion Molle’s irresistible graduation book

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Saying if you like a book or not, is easy.
I am not talking about the content of a book, but the object itself.
When you hold it in your hands, you can feel it. Do you want to open it? Do you want to browse through it? Do you like the texture? Do you feel comfortable? Or do you simply like to hold it?
Most of the time you don’t need to ask yourself these questions.

I was in the library, only one book really appealed to me in this way.

Imagine a big book, not thick; fine, approximately the size of A3. You can’t open it directly. You need to remove its white cardboard sleeve, printed with small drawings. Now touch the pages. They are made of a strong, mat and smooth paper. The binding is glued, and almost invisible. All your attention is directed to the black and white drawings. Moreover, you can see some gap between the pages. I like those imperfections, and its mysterious aspect. No text, no title. Only a story about hands, bees, mountains and animated trees going through 34 pages, full-bleed risograph printed. By the way, should we consider the front and back covers as pages of this book? I have no idea. I should just ask it to the author.
Author or artist?
After a long moment I found a discrete hand-written name in the left bottom of the back cover : Marion Molle. Marion told me she graduated from the VAV department last year 2015.
I should send her an email, after which i will tell you more.




Before sending an email, I need her address. I search on google Marion Molle. the first link is her website, you should go and have a look :


I thought maybe I will find some information about her project. After I scrolling over all her projects, I finally find her book. There is no caption, only photos. I look at the section info, and get her address. Email sent. I asked for further information about her work, with a catchy sentence « tell me more ».
2 days after, she told me a lot more.

Capture d’écran 2015-11-30 à 00.52.34

Her principe is quite unconventional and not that easy, but I will try to explain it to you as accurately as possible. To start with, here is the recipe she used to make this nice book you cannot resist opening when you are at the library.

At the really first beginning, she drew some separate elements with an alcohol-based ink marker on a white background. Then she scanned and associated them to make new compositions. She has some ideas about how they could interact, but she didn’t need to think about it before working on photoshop, which gave her new possibilities. Afterward, she printed the images and draw over again, to add shadows for instance. This way, she compares her small first drawings as ‘puppets’ that she combined to discover unexpected associations. To end up, she scanned them a second and last time, and print the news images with the risograph, which flattens the images and gives the sensation of an unique layer. In this printed technique, you can only work with one color layer at the time, and furthermore, the result is constituted of huge ammont of minuscule dots. That is one of the reason she chose risograph :
she was now able to give a new texture and appearance to her drawings (among other reasons of course, as the price, risograph printing is way more cheaper than laser printing method).



This way, her complete work has been guided by the technique of the risograph printing. For instance she wanted to have the biggest book as possible, but the risograph allows to print on a A3 maximum. This fact explain also the binding, as she couldn’t print two pages on a same format.



Moreover, she didn’t want to give up with those independent elements. She first thought about making another book. But she made up her mind and used them for the cover of the book. So that when you grab it, you have this collection of images appearing as a foretaste of the unknown story hidden inside, ‘enveloping the book with its ingredients’, (as you can see on the very first picture).

By the way, remember, this mysterious aspect comes from the fact the book doesn’t have a title. Actually, it has a title, but not a textual one.

__ .’ ‘. _/__) . .

This is the title. You may ask why, me too. In fact, she found weird to feel obliged to add some text to a book. Therefore this following of punctuation marks was the solution to her problem. But in case she needs to give it a title, she calls it ‘bee book’.

After that, I asked her some question about the meaning of the story. Her really first intention was to conceive a book for children about bees. The insects would have made absurdist ‘tasks’ in a world organized in a way as our human society but with a complete different logic. She would refer to this human aspect, using human body parts’ shapes (that what may explain the hands and the faces). But finally, she tried to make the narrative interpretation of the story, as free as possible, trying to activate the reader’s imagination. This way, she considers the end of the book likewise the beginning of the story.

After two long messages in which she answered to each of my questions, the discussion seems ended. However I remember that I forgot to ask her one more questions : “are you an author or an artist, or even a designer?” I send her another email, but I have no news. I hope one day I will be able to tell you the answers.


For the moment, go to the library and have a look, it is worth it

Rietveld library catalog no : graduation publication 2015


Elvis lives forever

Thursday, November 12, 2015

part 1.1 bm

Very intuitively I picked up this book. The bright, contrasting colours were screaming for my attention. The colours reminded me of those beautiful 80’s ski jackets.




Next came the tactility. The moment you take it in your hands it feels like a good, quality book. The cover is a tough silkscreened fabric sheet which looks and feels substantial. The silkscreening is neat and professional. However when opening the book you see that the cover isn’t even attached to the rest of the book properly. It’s just folded around the pages. The book also slides around quite a lot within the cover, making it very susceptible for damage around the corners.

On further examination I found that the design of this book is actually full of contradictions. The paper on which text is printed is not the same as the paper on which the images are printed. Very high quality images are placed right next to very low quality images. There are two different fonts used. The text is printed in seven different colours. And Part I and Part II are in the same book, except you have to flip the book around if you want to read them both. All of these little disagreements within the design of this book are what made this publication so exciting for me.

François Girard-Meunier is the designer of the book; Graceland to Graceland. Graduated from the Rietveld Academie just last summer 2015, so he is a fairly new player in the Amsterdam design world. Nonetheless, his design for Mie Frederikke Fischer Christensen’s (a fellow graduate student) book “Graceland to Graceland” is more than noteworthy.

There’s just something childishly interesting about bright colors, which draws one’s eye to this book. The use of these bright and very contrasting colours reminded me of those amateur-built websites from around 2000. Which would tie in very well with the content of the book, elvis being quite a cult-figure with a fairly large amount of fans. The colours emit a certain immaturity, as if someone very unaware of conventional graphic design really wanted to make this book look as ‘beautiful’ as possible. And by doing so, that individual crammed in as much visual stimuli as possible. However, when reading the appendix (written by the designer himself) it became clear that all of these elements are actually a ‘leftover’ of the text editing proces.  “As multiple annotations came and disappeared within the editing proces, we [François Girard-Meunier and Mie Frederikke Fischer Christensen] somehow found [it] meaningful to keep a form that suggested this process.”


text         text         text


Moreover, not only the colours are striking about the text, the fact that François also used two different fonts to distinguish the interviewer from the interviewee is also very interesting. A certain distance is created between the two characters by letting the interviewer ‘speak’ in Arial and the interviewee in Times LT. When taking into account that the Arial typeface has mostly taken the position that the Times typeface had before, one could argue that this symbolizes the younger interviewer versus the older interviewees. In a sense that the interviewer is now more relevant than the Elvis fans. In this publication the focus lies more on  the reasons for these fans to be fans than on Elvis himself.

Furthermore, a plethora of images is showcased. Seemingly randomly stacked on top of each other and in different levels of quality. the pictures seem to be taken from all over the internet. Not only good resolution pictures are used but also quite bad quality stuff, watermarks included. The one thing they have in common though is their relation to, or, representation of; Elvis. This aesthetic is reminiscent of the ones found on fan-made websites, created to lift their idol to a higher level by posting as much images of him as possible. No matter the quality or the context, the only thing that matters is Elvis.
This is also what drew me to this book. These details supposedly try to reenact the feeling of a very DIY website. It takes a good eye to spot these kind of fan-made characteristics and even better eyes to imitate them. Then again, when reading, and hearing François talk about these things, these kind of decisions seem to have a more layered argumentation: “the massive amount of material that, even though not ‘clean’ are great forms of representation that show how diverse and polysemic a character such as Elvis Presley can become after being transformed into a mythology.” 
He turns the tables. Instead of all these image just being an illustration of the interviews, they are actually a representation of what the ‘myth’, Elvis, can mean.


plethora         plethora         plethora


The inside of the book also features two types of paper. One a bit more glossy that the other. The images being printed on the glossier one. This division also suggests a certain budget, as if there wasn’t enough money to make the entire book out of glossy paper. Which again, ties in with the aesthetics of these amateur fan-pages. When listening to François however, this was exactly the point. All individual materials used in order to make the book are of quite high quality, there is just a lack  of coherence (literally and by figure of speech) between the materials.

All of these clashes in the design and in my way of thinking about the book and the original intentions of the designer make me realize that this book is actually so much more than what I had anticipated it to be.


Rietveld library catalog no : graduation publication 2015


A Book where images are Still

Thursday, November 12, 2015


The Nature of Photographs_back The Nature of Photographs_cover
I choose this book because I like how the front cover looks. In the upper left corner, there are small letters saying ‘The Nature of Photographs’, but the main part is the picture: one of the pictures described in the book.

It shows a man’s hand, firmly holding one photo against the horizon. It’s a photo of a white ferry, slowly proceeding on black waves. The man’s sleeve is also white, and you can see rough wrinkles on it.

The sea is covered with wavelets, and light from them is diffused into the sky. The sky is of a lighter tone than the ocean itself, and there is a belt of white on top of everything …as if responding to the dark colors below. It creates a comfortable rhythm of black, gray and white.

One characteristic of this book is that the cover does not just place the picture of a hand among other elements composing it (to have a glimpse of what is inside the book, as most of pages are mainly occupied by photographs). Instead, the designer uses the photo as a base of his design: a black square of “PHAIDON” comes in lower- left corner, in response to the ferry-picture. Title, same as all of the text inside, is written in a ‘typewriter’ font. In this way the text becomes very subtle, like a transparent brook running through all the pages, sometimes long but sometimes as short as 3 lines.

Old Man with apples    Garbage


"Old man with apples", a small, anonymously taken picture is accompanied by a text concentrated in upper-left corner, while huge pictures with a lot of details often have very little text

All of this indicates that the designer tries to show the pictures in balanced way with the text.

1. Importance of font-design

The names of designers of the book are Henrik Kubel and Scott Williams. The two established a London-based design studio A2/SW/HK in the year 2000, two years after meeting each others as post-graduate students at the Royal College of Art, London. A2/SW/HK is now a member of ‘Alliance Graphique Internationale’, AGI, which consists of 440 influential graphic designers.
In 2010, they launched A2-Type, a new type foundry with a selection of 15 fonts specially created for print, screen and environment. It releases and distributes over a decade’s worth of specially crafted typefaces, ranging from serifs and sans serifs to handwritten types, angular types and ornaments.
The two designers have a rule to create a new typeface for each of their new works, whether it is a book-cover, a brand identity or a signage for an exhibition. For example, a thin font that reminds you of cutting-lines of stamps,  because its lines are hardly attached to each other, is called “Danmark”: it was used for a set of stamps designed by the duo.



Another example is “Beckett”, which was made for series of books by Samuel Beckett, an Irish avant-garde novelist, poet, and theatre-director.

Beckett-ref-1   beckett-top_bold


2. How do they work?

A2/SW/HK have a conceptual approach. Their design ranges across various media including print, screen and interiors. (here, on their website, you can see a huge portfolio consisting of almost 50 works.)

From an interview with ‘Eye‘, an international magazine on graphic design, we can get an idea of their way of working on projects.

As eye magazine declares,  their attention for the materials, process and artifacts becomes clear as soon as you enter A2’s studio, located on the third floor of an old textile warehouse in Hoxton, London,. In case of stamp series for the first of James Bond books Casino Royale, it took the designers 2 months to research and retrieve every single edition that was published over last 50 years.

Casino royale


It is interesting to see how the style of illustration changes in accordance to the visual cultiure of the time.


3. Metro

The process of creating a font includes testing various typefaces and weights with one another, applying them across point sizes, and making sure it “looks right”, as Scott Williams mentioned in an interview with Aperture.

A project that shows up on top of their current website is “Moscow Sans” – a font designed exclusively for Moscow Department of Transport, DOT. The duo art-directed and designed the font in collaboration with Margaret Calvert, type and pictogram consultant, and Ilya Ruderman concerning design of Cyrillic script. The system of a custom typeface in 4 different weights, along with unique pictograms, is being applied to all the stations of Moscow Metro within this year. Compared to the gorgeous interiors of Moscow Metro, the signs look very bright and have a lot of difference in style from the station building. However, there is nothing wrong in the most important piece of information standing out from its context, and thinking of a rush in metro, I think A2 solved the complicated metro-system in a clear way. A straightforward, bold font, but at the same time round and warm, is easy to read; the station’s sign is written both in Russian and English, with one number and one color that has been assigned to all the 12 stations of Moscow Metro.



Moscow is a capital city, and they say Moscow Metro is world’s 6th longest and the most crowded metro outside Asia. When there are more people and the lines are more complicated, it is essential to see what you really need in a short time: what station is it, which line. Therefore, I think design by Henrik & Scott is very user-friendly, displaying information in a plane, sensible way.


4. New Rail Alphabet

Another typeface which was designed by Henrik Kubel is New Rail Alphabet, which is a revision of the British Rail alphabet, used in UK’s National Health Hospitals, rail stations of Denmark and Britain, and BAA airports. Margaret Calvert, designer of the original alphabet, used to teach Hendrik in his younger days, and therefore, when adjusting it for digitalization, Kubel was able to link the font to handwriting of Margaret Calvert. Two points were altered in the original: one is its height, which used to be taller before, as slim tall fonts were considered to be fashionable when it became first in use in the 60s.

British Rail

5. A thought-through book

The more I read about the two designers, the more I understood that the large part of the body of their work is font-design. Sometimes they only have a name of a certain brand, so they find the best way to communicate with those letters that they have.

Returning to the book, (about which I haven’t talked so much .. its font is indeed designed also specially for this book, but as photographs are playing main role in it, text becomes more airy – different from letters in logos, that have a lot of visual layers.)

I think each photograph is shown, or “exhibited”, in a very thought-through way. Reading through it, I feel like it is a photographic gallery, where not only a picture itself, but the white space around it and size are taken into consideration. It is hard to find pages where pictures are placed in the same way.

Rietveld library catalog no : shor 2

Words used as objects

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The front page of the book is plain white, with nothing but text – that’s not so special, you would think. But the designer of this book, Experimental Jetset, describes their methodology as ‘turning language into objects.’ And so it is possible that a plane white cover with nothing but the title and a few words could catch my eye.


Experimental Jetset is a small Amsterdam based design studio, founded by and still consisting of 3 designers: Marieke Stolk, Erwin Brinkers and Danny van den Dungen. They all studied at Rietveld academy and formed Experimental Jetset together in 1997, after their graduation.


DSC_0148_1 DSC_0146_2

Not only on the cover of “Wij Bouwen Nieuwe Zinnen” (building new sentences) are words turned into objects – through the whole book, this theme comes back. “Wij Bouwen Nieuwe Zinnen” is an art catalog, presenting an overview of the exhibitions, and their contributing artist, that took place in W139 gallery between 1999 and 2002. Every exhibition that is described (in words and in pictures) starts with a blank page, like the cover of the book, with in the same block wise shaped sentences describing which exhibition it was, when it took place and which artist contributed to the exhibition. The space that doesn’t have to be used for this information, is filled with word-objects saying constantly one thing: We Build New Sentences. In the pages that follow, pictures and texts are showed, a bit like you would expect it to be in a catalog, except the fact that the bottom of the pages is always reserved for the word-objects. Always you can find in the bottom of the page the name of the exhibition that is further described on the page, but the rest of the space in the bottom of every page contains more word-objects, which continue saying through the whole book: We Build New Sentences



At Experimental Jetset gives a very clear explanation of how they work with words as if it were drawings or ‘objects’. ‘Originally, the word ‘graphic’ is derived from the proto-indo-european base-word ‘grebh’, which simply means ‘to carve’ or ‘to scratch’; but in greek times, the word ‘graphikos’ referred both to the act of drawing and writing. In a sense, we do believe that the current practice of graphic design still refers to this classic notion – the idea that writing is a form of drawing, and drawing is a form of writing.’

The way Experimental Jetset uses words in a certain shape and the repetition of this shape, I had never seen before. Because I am no designer, I am unable to see direct influences in the work of Experimental Jetset, but according to themselves they are influenced by all kinds of things, from punk to what they call ‘the late-modernist landscape’ in which they grew up. This is one of the reasons for their frequent use of the typeface Helvetica. ‘It’s only logical that this late-modernist dialect can be detected all throughout our work. we’re simply not the kind of people who feel it’s necessary to suppress one’s own dialect.’

‘We feel strongly connected to the Dutch graphic design tradition, much more than we feel connected to contemporary Dutch Design. Contemporary Dutch Design is often perceived as very ironic, and overly personal; something we have absolutely no affinity with. At the same time we do realise that our humourless and rather dogmatic way of designing is sometimes interpreted as ironic or even deadpan. We have learned to embrace this awkward friction.’

So though they invented a very original style, they did this in the ‘language’ they grew up with, and they often use nothing more than words and letters itself. I would call their work honest, and I think that is one of the things that I find so interesting and pleasant about their work.

Experimantal Jetset claims to have no affinity with ‘overly personal’ contemporary Dutch Design, but when I started my research on Experimental Jetset, it stroke me how many interesting comments the designers of Experimental Jetset make about themselves – in interviews, but also in the book the designers made about their own work: Statement and Counter-Statement. Notes on Experimental Jetset. These comments show a different image of the group: a very open group, eager to talk about how they work, how they come to certain designs, and even make personal notes on their own work. This is, according to themselves, to reflect on their work. In an interview they mention their way of using these texts: ‘Around 2005, we decided to make our first proper website, we thought it would be interesting to include texts like these. Mainly because we don’t necessarily see our website as a portfolio, attracting possible clients – we see it more as a diary, or a personal archive.’ So in this sense, and maybe that is different from the ‘contemporary Dutch Designers’ they are talking about, they are very open about their way of working and about their work-proces, rather than putting personal issues in the works.

The good thing about the many comments Experimental Jetset makes about their work and their way of working, is that it is easyer to put the work in a perspective. The fact that the designers point out their influences themselves, that they describe their own method, is a parallel to their work itselve – works that are always very open. The designers of Experimental jetset are not these artistic magicians who do magic tricks – they use means that are recognisable for everyone, they explain what they do and why they do it and this brings the honesty and clarity in the design and the concepts of the designers.


Rietveld library catalog no : 705.9


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

cover of Ray by Susanne Kriemann

What could ‘Ray’ be about I wonder? What kind of ray? Ray who? Stingrays? Electromagnetic radiation?
After holding this book for long enough to determine that it has nothing to do with any of these, the mystery of the content, for that moment, became irrelevant.
The matte, black and grey photograph of what seems to be a large rock amidst a rockier landscape provokes the question further, but this provocation is quickly smoothed out by the incredibly soft texture of the cover in which to run your hands across with pleasure.

Apologies Susanne Kriemann, for I am without doubt that this is an interesting book, but my other senses are currently occupied…

Opening the not-so-glossy, smooth publication that is creating such an aura of intrigue, is all the more satisfying. With black pages and a silver typeface to contrast, I am immediately drawn in by the first few images; a double page, inverted radiograph of two keys – unlocking this mystery at last perhaps – two saturated photographs of landscapes and hand written material.


By cleverly playing around with the orientation and size of photographs; some with an opposing black page, others wedged between boundaries of silver, is just one of the ways in which Radim Pesko, designer, creates more invitation to go deeper into this book.


The simplicity in using a plain Typeface (F Grotesk Light) can be overlooked, with text positioned only on the far left and right of the page, giving the centerfold its black depth.

This dark and light theme gracefully continues throughout the book, with a few pages of text, followed by changing and developing perspectives of more atmospheric images.

This layout has been well thought out, even down to the threaded binding, this book has a particular attraction about it.

Finding an instant connection with a publication is a rare and enjoyable experience.

Sacrificing myself to the curiosity that had built up, just by holding the book and skimming through the pages a few times, I decided to delve into the contents.

Obscurely at first; broaching a subject that we are so familiar with, and such an integral part of every crevice of our lives,  yet we barely give it any thought. Written in such a way that doesn’t seem to want or need to give too much away, which matches the design impeccably.

When talking about light, to a photographer especially, the layers upon layers of this incredible source we take for granted becomes aparant, and goes deeper than expected.

Rooted in geology, rocks and the landscape; our connection and consciousness with the Earth, are essential in Kriemanns research. The birth of photography and introduction of electrical lighting, the minerals extracted, right down to the mine from whence it came; the corruption that followed blinded by human desire, to the growth into the world we live in now, with the glare of an LED screen ever present and almost impossible to escape.

A somewhat poetic approach, exemplifying more than just the artificial. As humans we are connected to the landscape and geology of the Earth, both physically and psychologically, as much as we continue on the unscrupulous path we tread.

An enticing read, with interesting extracts from contemporary writers and stories of the past, many angles are covered and stones unturned. This goes deeper than a photography publication, but more like an exploration into the process; the why, where and how we have reached the conditions we are in today…

This conceptualization must have also attracted Pesko to work on the design. For him, methods in working number 1: have an interest!

If you are not drawn in by the concept or idea, then you will not produce a successful outcome. With ‘Ray’, he brings forth an approachability to a book that I have not encountered before.

I could have returned ‘Ray’ to the library weeks ago, but I didn’t want to. It felt too nice and I had not finished reading it. But also the photographs, are wonderful, and mysteriously come together and take form as you read on. I want a copy of my own.

So how is he able to hit the mark? Well not only is a peak in Pesko’s interest essential, but also an element of humanitarianism; doing it for the people and the community.

After gaining plenty of knowledge studying at art academies in Prague and London, then completing a post-grad at ‘Werkplaats Typografie’ in Arnhem, he began designing for a magazine.  The history of all typeface-design, and the idea that you could make a part of that history, was an interesting thought for Pesko, and when design became more serious a deepening interest and work on commissions helped to form his own preferences and continue to develop his skills.

Successful working method number 2: be comfortable with your own limitations. That’s when it got more interesting, as his style became more refined and he was easily able to pull together key elements.

Formerly based in Amsterdam and once a teacher at the Rietveld Academie,  he now primarily works in London as an independent graphic designer. Whatever the project, I think Pesko has developed a good approach to his way of working.

Lesson 3: You begin with no material, until you start drawing, then allow your concept to grow. In each typeface created, he is also finding its own story, and history.

Playing with weights, styles, layers and colour, there are “endless combinations and infinitive variations”, which gives him a sense of freedom. A freedom that he also shares… At RP Digital Type Foundry established in 2009.


is one of the many examples that have been used to preview his fonts. This information is automatically saved to his website. From Amsterdam Weather Forecast, BBC News and New York Times, to tv show The Wire and other websites and sources. Hundreds of these headlines are cataloged and published in the ever updating book ‘Specimen’, along with new and indicative fonts.


His distinctive family of fonts, whether in response to changing conditions in production or individually adjusted according to the space they occupy, are highly recognizable forms with the design remaining in the defined project.

Working method number 4: VISUAL is important.

Emphasized in personal projects such as the book ‘Informal Meetings’. A collection of photographs made during his travels to different places.

‘any part, any form’ is the follow up to this, and also the beginning and the end. No other text is included in this book. Discoveries of interesting encounters between space, architecture and water, each photograph seems to reference the other, forming a narrative and giving the images a natural flow, without the addition of text. A blue rectangle and textured red circles on the cover are all this book needs; relating to the title and content, everything makes so much sense, without giving it all away at first glance.

cover of 'Any Part, Any Form' by Radim Pesko [x]

Similarly in the design for Ray; the links form themselves. Ah so that is a Quartz Crystal on front cover… nice.

Teaching number 5: Let me take you on a journey, let me be your guide on this path of realization that you have already begun, you just don’t know it yet.

Okay, entice me a little more why don’t you, that is fine with me.




Rietveld library catalog no : kri-1


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