You know when something is so easy for you to do, you never end up doing it? Such as exploring more of where you came from, or meeting up with someone who lives around the corner? Last week I finally got the chance to see Amsterdam based Rob van den Nieuwenhuizen (aka Drawswords) and Barbara Hennequin give a lecture at the Pratt Grad Studio.
Rob and Barbara’s work is killer. Together they work at Almanac, a studio they founded in Amsterdam with a gallery downstairs and ping-pong table to boot. It kinda goes without saying that people in the Netherlands have the potential to be a pretty good designers. You’re born into a place where everything is considered and you have stunning posters decorating your daily bike ride to the office. What I love about their work and what makes it stand out to me is the sense of play, hacking and risk-taking.
Take the book below for instance.
Book designed and published in the aftermath of a one year AIR program. Artists Tom Tlalim (II/NL) Lieven De Boeck (BE), Frank Havermans (NL), Shinji Otani (JP) and Sachi Miyachi (JP) brought about new perspectives on the Amsterdam Zuidas area; an enormous urban project. The outcome was displayed in an exhibit; further considerations are highlighted in a publication.
Torn front (2) and back (1) covers, futhermore the first 64 pages are rainbow printed (grey-green-grey), 16 pages were printed using red and opaque ink and the book also contains 8 torn pages wrapped around different sections.All tearing was done by hand and each book is unique.
Barbara and Rob invited their friends around one night to drink beer and finish the design of the book. Which involved ripping the cover. How much does that say about clients in the Netherlands, that they’re so comfortable with designers they’re cool with the concept of destroying what they just paid for?
And don’t get me started on print techniques. Always the one to ask the inappropriate question, I asked them did anything ever go wrong. Rob said that when they were redesigning ITEMS Magazine they had to sign a contract with their printer as the combination of inks they requested had an unpredictable outcome. The color came out nowhere near what they expected, not that you or I would know.
My favourite piece was a calendar they designed which communicated the seasons through inks. I very much had to restrain myself from stealing it. As it was for 2013 my only sadness is that if I had, nearly three months have already passed that I hadn’t gotten to love. I hope those two continue to play in their work, no doubt we’ll see it in the next Gestalten book ;)