Summer 2004

Sailing down a mighty river of type [EXTRACT]

Dutch Type

By Jan Middendorp
Design: Peter Verheul and Bart de Haas, 010 Publishers, 62.50 Euros

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Jan Middendorp’s book about the development of Dutch type over this time span is a must. It took him seven years of extensive and thorough research to complete the book and he is a smooth operator. From 1997 to the end of 2003 he moved quietly through the offices of Dutch type designers, graphic designers and other places, where he listened, asked questions and collected information. The result is a 320-page 1.5kg book, packed with colour illustrations, that gives a full picture of the Dutch type design scene.

Reading the book is a little like travelling along a great river of type, and it has a structure to match. It starts off telling the story of the past at a rapid pace but as it comes closer to the present, the stream of information widens, and the tempo of the book slows down, to end in a wide delta of contemporary Dutch typeface designers.

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A book with ‘Dutch’ in its title is timely. It is going to become increasingly hard to keep Dutch type Dutch when type designers are using the same software to produce their fonts for the various media and when exchange is a key word. Think about the Web, email, or printed matter flying to other continents. All kinds of cross-connections with other foreign type designers will make the national rivers end in a huge body of water. But that is the future, and this book is the present.

If you haven’t already gone out and bought this book my advice to you is do so straight away. I have just one piece of advice to those who own the book: dive into it.