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Unit in Amsterdam

- Adrian Shaughnessy

You don't need much persuasion to visit Amsterdam. It’s a terrific city, and as long as you can avoid being run over by cyclists it’s almost impossible not to have a good time.

I was there recently to speak at an event at the Bijzondere Collecties van de Universiteit van Amsterdam. The event was staged by Warren Lee (proprietor of venerable bookstore Nijhof & Lee) to announce the reopening of his shop within the Special Collections department of the University of Amsterdam, and to celebrate the launch of the Unit Editions book TD 63-73: Total Design and its Pioneering Role in Graphic Design.

I gave a short talk (in English – well, I’m a Brit, what do you expect?) on the seismic shifts – both good and bad – that are shaping the current publishing scene.

My talk was followed by a witty speech (it was in Dutch, but I know it was witty because everyone laughed a lot) by Professor Paul Mijksenaar, who not only worked at TD but is a designer of visual information and founder and director of the international design bureau Mijksenaar, based in Amsterdam and New York. He is also known as a sharp-eyed observer of the Dutch design scene. His talk involved throwing one of the major Dutch newspapers to the ground in disgust. This act got a cheer. I think it was a commentary on the paper’s poor design.

The event was closed by Ben Bos, who gave an emotional speech that took on extra meaning because the audience of 150 or so people contained many former TDers, some of whom had worked with Ben and with the other TD team leaders. In the audience was Wim Crouwel, Friso Kramer and Dick Schwartz. I also recognised a number of other giants of the Dutch design scene – both young and old. But this is beginning to sound like Hello magazine, so I’ll stop now. 

Here are some pictures taken by Elly Bonsen.

Wim Crouwel and Ine Wijtvliet

Sitting in the centre Anne Stienstra; standing Judith Crouwel; left background Dick Schwarz

Total Design "old timers"

Dirk Fortuin, Ine Wijtvliet and Tineke Starreveld

Frans Lieshout and Wim Verboven


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