Assessment 4 – 20th Century Type – Wim Crouwel

For my “profile of a designer, design group, studio or movement, or an influential or significant typographic design work from the period” portion of Assessment 4 I have chosen the Dutch design Willem (Wim) Crouwel.

Willem Hendrick Crouwel was born in 1928 in Groningen, Netherlands. In early adulthood, he first studied Fine Arts, and was then drafted into the army. On his return, he began working as an abstract painter. In 1952, he studied Typography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and in 1954 he quit painting and began working as a freelance designer.

In 1963, Wim Crouwel helped to found Total Design (now called Total Identity), the first multidisciplinary design studio in the Netherlands.

Crouwel worked extensively with the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, creating many posters, catalogues and exhibitions for the Museum. It was through his work with Stedelijk that he was able to develop and refine the application of the grid system, for which he is especially well known. My profile on Wim Crouwel will focus on his work and contribution to the grid system.

Crouwel designed the typeface New Alphabet in 1967, a unique looking typeface which includes only horizontal and vertical strokes, as early phototypesetting equipment could not replicate curves. The New Alphabet typeface was designed so that the letters were equal width and so they fit into his grid system both horizontally and vertically.

Another one of his typefaces is Gridnik.

Wim Crouwel has also contributed to the education of future designers, teaching at various design academies and universities over the years.

The work of Wim Crouwel has been exhibited all over the world and he has won a number of European design awards. The Design Museum in London and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam featured his work in a major exhibition called “Wim Crouwel: A Graphic Odyssey” in 2011.

Vormgevers by Wim Crouwel (1968)



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