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It’s the same but different.

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  • One of the fundamental jobs of any designer is to analyse the raw material, making judgements about its structure and about how that will be expressed typographically. Most pieces of design have some sort of hierarchy which needs to be organised and articulated clearly. Depending on purpose the hierarchy will change from job to job and each must be analysed on a job by job basis. 
    I was told to design layouts using the text and images provided:
  • Wim Crouwel
    This excerpt is from IDEA magazine #323, a feature issue about Crouwel and his work.
    ‘It was actually quite difficult to avoid Wim Crouwel’s work. In the 1960s the Netherlands was inundated with posters, catalogues, stamps designed by him, even the telephone book.’
    Wim Crouwel, born in Groningen (the Netherlands) in 1928 is a remarkable and inspiring figure with an inventive spirit and vision, vigorous and always distinguished.1 He designed his first poster in 1952. After leaving artschool he became a painter leaning towards Expressionism, but as he designed this first poster he discovered the pleasure of organising visual information in an aesthetical context. The contrast between Crouwel as a lyrical expressionist painter and objectivating functionalist designer couldn’t be more extreme. As a designer he felt related to the Bauhaus ideas, the swiss-inspired international style. He was fascinated by the rational aspect in Bauhaus typography, which he discovered through Karl Gerstner’s and Gerard Ifert’s work. Although his ideas were bauhaus-related, unlike many Crouwel was not a dogmatist. He was fascinated by the ideas about serial and mass production, as he stated “we need the machine since we have no time”. But he also believed “the machine cannot replace the precision of the human eye and human feeling”.2 Crouwel’s work has always consisted of these two essential ele- ments: the emotional aspect and the rational one.
    As a functionalist Crouwel focussed on the readability of his work. But when he had to make a choice between readability and aesthetics, he chose aesthetics. “When you’re a functionalist you want to make things comprehensible, readable, make your ideas visible. I feel myself being a modernist, a functionalist, but aesthetics always stand in the way.” 3
    Couwel is a purist as he mainly uses type, but in the course of time
    non-typographic elements like lines and even reproductions would appear in his work. These slight changes of direction can be explained by his non-dogmatic view. Crouwel takes his customers’ wishes seriously and tries to match them with his own fundamental typographic princi- ples. Often curators have their own opinion concerning the design for their exhibition. Crouwel’s carreer is marked by both his flexibility and his integrity.
    1 Dr. Harald Szeemann in:
    ‘Kunst+design Wim Crouwel Preisträger der stankowski-stiftung 1991’.
    2 Edy de Wilde in
    ‘Kunst+design Wim Crouwel Preisträger der stankowski-stiftung 1991’.
    3 Excerpt from ‘Helvetica the movie’ explaining the ‘new alphabet’ Titles for Images
    Helvetica 2007
    poster, 95x64cm
    (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)
    Vormgevers 1968
    detail of typeface
    (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)
    Leger 1957
    poster, 88x61cm
    (Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven)