Autumn 2021

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Gerard Unger, Life in Letters

By Christopher Burke. Designed by Hansje van Halem. De Buitenkant, £45, €45
Gerard Unger, life in letters

In his daughter Flora’s schoolyard, the late Dutch type designer Gerard Unger (1942-2018) was once approached by a mother who told him that her daughter was convinced Flora’s father must be stupid to be still drawing letters at home. Indeed, that is what he did – during the time when I assisted him – first on paper, later on his screen.

Born during the Second World War, Unger grew up in the city of Arnhem (of A Bridge Too Far fame), was educated in Amsterdam and London in the 1960s and lived in Bussum, a small town, with Marjan, his art historian wife, until the end of his life, drawing about 25 typefaces in the 50 years he lived there.

In his final years, Unger approached Christopher Burke to write about his type designs and asked Hansje van Halem to design the book, which was printed and published – also at his request – by Jan de Jong’s De Buitenkant …

Cover of Gerard Unger, life in letters designed by Hansje van Halem. Top. Spread with drawings by Unger of Swift italic, bold and bold condensed, 1984-85.

Chris Vermaas, designer, writer, educator, Amsterdam

Read the full version in Eye no. 102 vol. 26, 2021

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.