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Graphic design: An explosion of styles

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Graphic design has also seen a lot of changes. During the 1970s and ‘80s, the tone was set by designers with an impersonal and austere signature. Who can forget the angular, mechanical numbers on the postage stamps by Wim Crouwel, which cheerlessly announced the coming of the computer age? Or the politically charged work of Jan van Toorn, who felt that designers should have the courage of their convictions and approach their work with social engagement? It was the autodidact Anthon Beek who changed this course, with his theatre posters in which he was not afraid to use decoration. Even more: He borrowed style elements from the ‘new wave’, resulting in daring work that contrasted strongly with that of his colleagues. ‘Information is irritation and identification’, he stated.

In the meantime these schools – introverted and impersonal versus extravert and bombastic – have exploded into a multiplicity of styles and opinions. The creed for 2010 is undeniably: Anything goes. Designers such as Luna Maurer, Job van Bennekom and Daniël van der Velden, and agencies such as Thonik and 75B, are representative of a large group of graphic design agencies and independent designers who produce high-quality work and so continue to inspire and challenge each other.

A striking development is the current leaning towards traditional trades and true craftsmanship. Just compare Crouwels’ polished ‘computer stamp’ to the rough and approachable ‘business stamp’ that Hansje van Halem designed for TNT in 2007.