The Debate: The Legendary Contest of Two Giants of Graphic Design

Monacelli Press has published the first English translation of an historic 1972 debate between Dutch graphic designers Wim Crouwel and Jan van Toorn, at Amsterdam’s Museum Fodor.

Held in response to an exhibition of Van Toorn’s work at Stedelijk Museum, including student posters protesting the Vietnam War—in an era of youth culture and increasing resistance to authority, capitalism, and the power of media—the stakes were aesthetic, ethical, and politically charged.

Crouwel defended his approach of neutrality and austere rationalism, attention to typography and worksmanship, and professionalism in service of the client’s message. Van Toorn argued for his use of chaos, collage, and photographs of everyday life; that a designer’s ideas, personality, and political commitments are integral to the work.

Order vs. Disorder. I vaguely remember reading about this debate, but I’ve never seen a transcripts of it. Definitely interested in checking this out.

The clothbound book also includes a foreword by Rick Poynor, and a gallery of work from Crouwel and Van Toorn.

And starting today, Design Observer will be publishing four excerpts from the book.

Bernard Series 1227

Bernard Series 1227

Bernard Series 1227

Bernard Series 1227

Bernard Series 1227

Bernard Series 1227

I wrote about Bernard’s beautiful cycling kit a few years ago, and now they’ve released a new design with the Series 1227.

The series includes short sleeve jersey, bib shorts, wind vest and arm warmers, and are all made in Italy.

Founder and designer, Brandon Sincock, explains the design:

The new kit is an evolution of the original design – working with similar elements, and a shared design sensibility, but further exploring layering & the overlapping of elements as they wrap around the body, and transition from front to back. As well, color and typography are always key elements in our designs, and the way the designs play within the context of a rider’s unique position on the bike.

I’m a cyclist, and it’s hard to find clothing that is really well designed, and functional. Looks like Bernard is on the right track.

The great photography is by Jordan Clark Haggard.

Site Tweaks

Hey folks, I made some changes to the site, the biggest being the typeface. The site is now set in Lexia, a clean slab serif by Ron Carpenter for Dalton Maag. I’m a sucker for a nice slab serif, and Lexia is easy to read.

I also applied some color, using a dark blue as the primary, and I did some minor visual clean-up.


Italia ’76 Stamp

Italia '76 Stamp

A quick weekend post.

Blair Thomson shared this wonderful stamp designed by Luciano M. Boschini. It’s part of the Font Sunday at Design Museum, hosted by House of Illustration.

Neue Haas Unica

Neue Haas Unica

Neue Haas Unica

In the late 70s, Haas Type Foundry commissioned Team?’77 to create a new sans-serif that combined the great qualities of Helvetica, Univers and Akzidenz Grotesk. They came up with Unica, which was released in 1980.

Working from prints of Helvetica, Univers and Akzidenz Grotesk, the trio identified, compared and evaluated the finest of details, creating a new-generation sans-serif that eliminated the imperfections of its predecessors. “Unica was designed to be different,” said André Gürtler; “sharper than Helvetica, warmer than Univers, cleaner than Akzidenz.”

Because of legal disputes, Unica has never been available as a digital typeface. Now it is.

Monotype has just released Neue Haas Unica, a full digital set designed by Toshi Omagari. It is also available as a webfont.

Great to see classic typefaces getting a fresh new life in the digital age.