Karel Treebus

Since Karel Treebus understood possibly better than anyone that typography is a means and not an objective, he was well aware of the essential distinction between hype and evolution. His whole professional life was based on grasping the reality that form is content too. He was a driven man who did not pretend anything, just

Edo Smitshuijzen

Coming from a family of tradespeople one learns to think and act pragmatically. There is little time for philosophical discourse. It is all about keeping the business afloat. It is a busy life all day, every day. My family members on both my father’s and my mother’s side are middle class tradespeople in Amsterdam and

Jacques Peeters

“North of Venlo, side by side with the new Van der Grinten head office (producers of photocopiers and phototype material), a small, white country home with a gabled roof is home to the company’s publicity department. This is where we find Jacques Peeters. To the notice board on the wall behind his back he has

Anneke Huig

“Growing up in a progressive family with four brothers stimulated independence, initiative, and visions of our own future and our own place on earth. Taking the easiest way out was not an option, we needed challenges. Mine was to find something that would allow me to combine a career with raising kids. At the time,

Titus Yocarini

Titus Yocarini was born on October 14, 1947 in Amsterdam. His last name is indicative of foreign blood in his ancestry. His grandfather on his father’s side was a tobacco trader who lived on the Greek island of Samos and traveled to visit trade fairs all over Europe. One day, while in The Hague, he

Hans Bockting

Hans Bockting was born in Bladel, on May 8, 1945 – at the time of a watershed in European history, the end of WW II and the beginning of the Cold War. Maybe this is why he has always cherished his independence. “Freedom,” he says, “is and remains the supreme good.” From left: Hans Bockting,

Will van Sambeek

Will van Sambeek was one of those Dutch designers who were moved by Swiss modernist design already in the 1950s. In 1957, he was able to travel to this designers’ Mecca because he had won the award for best graduation project from St. Joost art academy in Breda. The other country that influenced his career

Rob Huisman

Rob Huisman: “I am passionate admirer of the design profession, notwithstanding having been an outsider all the time. This is what I feel. I deliberately chose for this position, from where I can show the profession the mirror image of its true being. I believe this is BNO’s power. Its bureau has the same attitude.

Paul Mijksenaar

Born in the last year of the war but one, Paul comes as a surprise to his parents, who already have three daughters. He grows up in a house on Watteaustraat, while his father works as head of press and information for Amsterdam’s municipal government, his expertise and skills so valued that a meeting room

Daphne van Peski

Heart Beat (2006) was Daphne van Peski’s last book design, a commission from her artist friend Carel Balth. “My 65th birthday marked the end of the flood of design projects that came to me. We were spending already much of our time in France. All of our attention was given to the home that my husband Fred

Bart de Groot

In 1932, The Hague’s academy of art was one of the first colleges to introduce graphic design in its curriculum. It was taught by Gerard Kiljan, who founded their ‘advertising department’, as it was then called. Paul Schuitema was one of their teachers, who strictly followed the ‘Bauhaus system’. Their approach to design was continued

Ben Harsta

March 12, 1937. Ben Harsta is born in Twente, one of the eastern provinces of the Netherlands, in the village of Wierden close to the town of Almelo. The Appelhofstraat and the meadows and woods that surround the village will be his playground. Ben Harsta: “The whole village was my playground. I discovered I could

Simon den Hartog

Born during the war years, in Bussum, the young Simon den Hartog was sickly. He spent most of the last war winter in Overijssel, which wasn’t a good preparation for academia, and after the war had ended he did not manage to finish secondary school. He had to find a job – that’s what one

Guus Ros

Born in Amsterdam, on February 6, 1940, Guus Ros lived with his family on Hoofdweg, in the western part of the city. His father was employed by Hollandia Kattenburg, producers of rain vestments, where he was promoted to chief of shipping. Theo Ros was a true family man who polished all the family’s shoes each

Ootje Oxenaar

And now for once a different story about Ootje Oxenaar (1929-2017). My story. For how to write about a designer’s work everyone is already so familiar with? Although there is more than the nine Dutch banknotes we all used to pay our bills with. How to write about a graphic designer around whom so many

Hein van Haaren

Although not a designer, Hein van Haaren (1930-2014) deserves his portrait to be published in the series Dutch Design Roots. As a leading principal and patron, and as an executive or a director of many organizations and events, he put his mark on Dutch art and design. He is best known for his ten years

Susanne Heynemann

I first heard about Susanne Heynemann (1913-2009) from Abe Kuipers, one of my teachers at the art academy. It was 1966 and Abe showed me her work and said: “The first female in our profession.” Fifteen years later, I came face to face with her when I joined Wolters-Noordhoff publishers in Groningen. I was lucky

Henk van Stokkom

Henk van Stokkom (1925-2019) is one of the grand old men of the Dutch graphic industry. For thirty-seven years he worked for the Eindhoven printing house Lecturis, at first as a management assistant, later as a deputy director, and his last four years as their commercial director. It was under his wings that Lecturis became

Donald Janssen

The seventh child in a Dutch Reformed family, I was born midway the Second World War – precisely one year before D-day – in The Hague (in 1943). I had six siblings: two sisters, four brothers. Three weeks after my birth, the family moved to Amersfoort because food was becoming scarce in The Hague. Yet

Ad Werner

Ad Werner (1925-2017) was taught ‘Bauhaus Rules’ at the academy of art in The Hague. One of his teachers, Paul Schuitema, was shocked to see Werner design movie posters at the start of his professional career. Werner worked for HEMA department stores and for popular magazines such as Margriet, Elegance and Nieuwe Revu, and he drew cartoons. “Werner

Kees Nieuwenhuijzen

Kees Nieuwenhuijzen (1933-2017) is a designer who does not spend much time theorizing about his profession. For fifty years, books have dominated his life, from literary paperbacks to photography tomes, but his oeuvre also includes architectural magazines, movie titles, posters and postage stamps. These different graphic products deliver proof of his meticulous professionalism and his

Andrew Fallon

‘Herengracht 567, Associatie voor Total Design N.V.’ is what the nameplate reads. It’s eight-thirty on Monday morning, 21 July, 1969. This is where I am going to be for a two month internship. My heart skips a beat as I ring the bell. I wait, but nothing happens. I try again – a little longer

Warren Lee

Warren (1944-2017) has his roots in New York State, some 100 kilometres above New York City. He was born in 1944 during WW2. His father was serving in the US Navy on a submarine. Warren’s elder brother and sister also chose careers under the Pentagon flag. Even Warren’s name has a martial theme, according to

Gerrit Noordzij

There are many sides of Gerrit Noordzij – all of them filled with love and devotion. His most inspired and inspirational side, though, is that of the teacher. He cannot stop talking about his love of teaching and his admiration for the human being as a student. He says: “Their innocence is so touching; they

Wim Crouwel

Paul Mertz wrote this very personal and almost poetic text for Roots about one of the icons of Dutch graphic design, Wim Crouwel. About whom, said Mertz, ‘much has been written and much has been said. His authorized biography [Wim Crouwel: Mode en module, 1997], covering the period until his seventieth birthday, is a precision

Cor Rosbeek

“Impossible doesn’t exist” and “I’m not selling print, I am selling trust.” Two sayings that characterize Cor Rosbeek who, together with his brother Jean, for long years ran Rosbeek printers in Nuth. The first maxim refers to the dedication shown by this printing house since 1963 to always deliver the best of the best, the

Baer Cornet

Baer Cornet (1937-2014), from Limburg province in the south-east of the Netherlands. He is a typographer first – who loves the sanserifs and especially the Monotype Grotesque. Which may be surprising, because a more classic serif type is what you’d expect from a designer born and nestled deep in the old historic and friendly rolling

Harry Sierman

The 1940s Life: Harry Sierman (1927-2007) was the oldest of five children from his father’s second marriage. A hosiery trader, his father was comfortably off and living the good, quiet life with his family at 68 Keizersgracht in Amsterdam’s predominantly roman-catholic neighborhood.  At one time he and his brothers were watching the news bulletin in the

Frans Spruijt

When he was still a printer, Frans Spruijt (1923-2009) was devoted to always deliver the highest quality and willing to be engaged with exceptional projects. The remarkable Spruijt calendars, the exhibitions he organized in his printing house and many, many of the publications he produced gave testimony of this devotion, his love of type setting to perfection

Swip Stolk

Swip Stolk’s (1944-2019) career started at age fifteen when he entered employment of an advertising agency. He dropped out of graphic school and Gerrit Rietveld Academy’s evening class, for he didn’t want to have anything to do with conventions and couldn’t stand the academic character of the studies. Others might be ashamed of not having

Henk Gianotten

During the first conversation Henk Gianotten (1940) and I had for this publication, I became aware immediately that he can still be found smack in the middle of the graphic profession’s action. Our discussion hardly paid attention to the past; it was as if looking back was not yet an option. Instead we talked much

Ben Bos

In 1978 Ben Bos (1930-2017) was invited to become a member of AGI, Alliance Graphique Internationale, a select group of international designers. For Bos this was a glorious occasion: it indicated he was recognized to be one of the world’s leading designers; he was allowed entrance to the design professionals’ Pantheon. It was not his

Paul Mertz

Amsterdam, Victorieplein, Berlage’s statue, the streetcars, the ‘Wolkenkrabber’ (skyscraper). The place where Paul Mertz (1938) was born, to which he returned and where he now lives and works for quite some time already. A Sunday’s child. A consultant, says the sign on his office’s window. A stimulator of young artists and designers, and still active.

Benno Wissing

It is the end of February 2006. I just received the portraits of Benno made by Jan van Toorn during his visit to Providence, Rhode Island. Stylistically, they are perfectly matched with the profiles created by Aatjan Renders for the Roots publications. The winter of 2005-06 on the East Coast of the United States had

Anthon Beeke

Graphic designer Anthon Beeke (1940-2018) is a street artist of a unique kind. A Beeke poster is almost always a provocation of the public space due to his disturbing choice of images cut so tight that they threaten to burst out of their setting. His posters present nude, vulnerable, imperfect and wounded bodies and details

Paul Hefting

Designers knew Paul Hefting (1933-2018) as “postzegelpaultje” (Mr Stamp) of the Dienst Esthetische Vormgeving DEV (Department of Esthetic Design) at PTT, later KPN, from whom they might receive the much desired commission to create a new postage stamp and who would guide them through the process. Other people knew him as the diligent author of

Bob Noorda

Born in Amsterdam in 1927, Bob Noorda attended what was then called ‘commercial art class’ at the Instituut voor Kunstnijverheidsonderwijs (IvKnO), also in Amsterdam, in 1950 and 1951. Although Bauhaus was much admired at the IvKnO, the education program was geared to practical implementation. Noorda was fine with this approach. Having lost three valuable years

Eugene Bay

Travelling is in Eugene Bay’s blood. His father worked for the diplomatic service of Great Britain in various capitals all over the world. Until his eleventh year, Eugene (now 65) lived successively in Turkey, Italy, India and Singapore. He then went to boarding school at Rodbourne College, near Newport Pagnell in England. At school he

Walter Nikkels

Walter Nikkels was educated at Rotterdam’s Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, where he studied at the department of ‘Decorative and Monumental Arts’. It taught the concept of ‘community art’, of a ‘designed art’ in the 1950s. Nikkels graduated after four years. Early monumental commissions gave him the fiscal freedom to continue studying painting at the Akademie der Bildenden

Each two weeks a new article

More to come Henk Gianotten, Frans Spruijt, Harry Sierman, Gerrit Noordzij, Baer Cornet, Cor Rosbeek, Wim Crouwel, Susanne Heynemann, Kees Nieuwenhuijzen, Ad Werner, Hein van Haaren, Ootje Oxenaar, Guus Ros, Simon den Hartog, Ben Harsta, Karel Treebus, Henk van Stokkom, Dick Bruna, Bart de Groot, Daphne Duijvelshoff van Peski, Rob Huisman, Will van Sambeek, Bart