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Noordzij

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Large 018 mt

Modern typography: an essay in critical history

Robin Kinross

A brisk tour through the history of Western typography, from the time (c.1700 in France and England) when it can be said to have become ‘modern’. A spotlight is directed at different cultures in different times, to trace the developments and shifts in modern typography. Attention is given to ideas, to social context, and to technics, thus stepping over the limited and tired tropes of stylistic analysis. This is a reprint of the second edition, which has some variations in the pictures as well as corrections and updatings in the text.

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Large 30 s

The stroke: theory of writing

Gerrit Noordzij

This is the first English-language edition of a major piece of thinking about writing (in its visual manifestation). Noordzij’s short and powerful text, illustrated with his own diagrams and examples, is the best exposition of a theory that is making a still growing impact on designers, and on those thinking about writing and letters.

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Entries

Judging books

2010.01.25

The National Mental Coach of the Netherlands – Wim de Bie – recently visited Zutphen (‘book-city Zutphen’) to ask and answer the question ‘how do you choose a book?’. Read more

Hague weather

2005.11.30

Last Friday, while a twenty-four-hour tempest of near-Shakespearean strength blew across the Dutch coastline, Gerrit Noordzij launched his book with a lively seminar in The Hague, at his old home of the Royal Academy of Art. Students from the Academy’s Type & Media course were there, as were some of Gerrit’s old students, and the occasion was introduced by one of the earliest of them, the designer Huug Schipper. We were given a good taste of the Noordzijan pedagogy and skill at the black-(actually green-)board. The author then conducted a virtuoso book-signing session. For a nice record of the event, see the slide show at Anno Fekes’s Vide.

The stroke

2005.07.08

A new forthcoming title is added to this website today: an English-language edition of Gerrit Noordzij’s De streek. The book appeared first in Dutch in 1985 and was reprinted in 1991. As Noordzij explains in his foreword to the original book, it takes some steps on from his earlier work, the English-language The stroke of the pen (published by the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, 1982). For our edition, the Dutch text of 1985 has been translated by Peter Enneson (in Toronto), working in dialogue with Noordzij. We hope to publish by late September.

Fresh Smeijers

2003.08.14

We are spending the hot summer indoors, working hard on new titles. The latest to be announced is Type now by Fred Smeijers. This will consist of an essay on the present situation in type design, fifteen or so years into the ‘PostScript revolution’, together with a colour section showing Fred’s own work as a designer. The book is due to be launched on 17 October at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. On this day three components of the Gerrit Noordzij Prize will be manifested: an exhibition of the work of Fred Smeijers, the launch of this book, and the award of the next (third) GNP to Erik Spiekermann.

Smeijers prized / Noordzij presented

2001.02.16

The Gerrit Noordzij Prize 2001 was awarded to Fred Smeijers in a meeting at the Konklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten in The Hague. The prize was first given in 1996, to Noordzij himself, during the ATypI meeting there. With this second award, the institution became more clearly defined: the previous winner makes an object to give to the new winner, and holds an exhibition of his work. Usually this will take place in the Meermanno Museum (Museum of the Book) in The Hague, though it was being refitted and was thus out of action for this occasion. As well as the prize giving, the afternoon’s celebrations included a short ‘laudatio’ given by Robin Kinross for Fred Smeijers, and the presentation of Gerrit Noordzij’s long-awaited book, De handen van de zeven zusters, published by Van Oorschot in Amsterdam. Of all the Dutch type designers, Fred stands nearest to Gerrit, in his conjunction of strong hand-skills and fearless independent public thinking. The prize is due to be given again early in 2003, when Fred Smeijers will hand a gift to the new winner, and be the subject of an exhibition and small publication.

Shapes versus outlines

2010.06.07

Gerrit Noordzij at the blackboard in March of this year: here

Rule or law

Large noordzij rulelaw

Gerrit Noordzij / 2007.09.15

The re-publication here of this essay by Gerrit Noordzij is prompted by the issue of Christopher Burke’s ‘Active literature’. Our book was made in the belief that the best service to Tschichold is a critical placing of his works and his ideas in their real historical context: the fact that we want to do this in such detail must be evidence of the importance that we think his work has. Gerrit Noordzij’s short and sharply critical essay points to what may be the central issue in Tschichold’s writings, and it does more than that. I read ‘Rule or law’ when it was published in Paul Barnes’s small book of ‘Reflections and reappraisals’ on Jan Tschichold, which he edited and published (under the imprint of Typoscope) in New York in 1995. It stuck out from that book as an unusually serious and illuminating reflection, which took Tschichold as its focus, and in the process tells a large truth about how teaching can happen, and how learning can happen. For its publication here, the text has been a little corrected and updated, in conversation with the author. It certainly merits dissemination now on the World Wide Web. RK Read more

Typically Swiss?

Large typo stgallen

2011.11.08

Is there still a ‘Swiss typography’. That is the broad theme of the first Tÿpo St.Gallen conference, running from 18 to 20 November. Contributors include our authors Jost Hochuli, and – giving a rare public lecture – Gerrit Noordzij. Bruno Monguzzi is among other speakers who appear only rarely at typography conferences. As well as the talks, there are visits to the main libraries and archives in St Gallen, and a reception to launch Hochuli’s Das ABC eines Typografen, the latest in the series of Edition Ostschweiz pamphlets.

A new Zurich Bible

Large zuerich bible inhand

2007.10.30

The Zurich Bible was published in a new translation this year. This is the Bible in its Swiss-Protestant text, first published in 1531. Not only is it a bestseller (26,000 copies sold since June), but it must be one of the best-looking and best-made books published anywhere for some time. Some bare statistics of the edition shown here hint at its qualities: weighs 1 kg, page size is 20 × 13 cm, number of pages is 1,950. This edition sells for €13.80. Read more