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Wim Crouwel Fascinated by the grid

  • The gallery walls displayed posters created by Crouwel during his career spanning more than 50 years. A clear division was made between his works created before and after the advent of desktop publishing. Crouwel's first posters employing a grid system. made in conjunction with his work for Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. were displayed symbolically together with enlarged sheets. The display tables featured very rare sketches of his “New Alphabet” font. as well as postage stamps, calendars and other items of his design. The gallery pillars were used to show photos of exhibitions he directed and his visual identity works. In this way, the exhibition functioned as the first introduction in Japan to the complete body of contributions Wim Crouwel has made to numerous fields throughout his prolific career.

  • ID


  • Exhibition Name

    Wim Crouwel Fascinated by the grid

  • Period

    December 14, 2017–March 17, 2018

  • Exhibition Type

    Traveling exhibition from ddd to ggg

  • Venue

    ddd Uzumasa, Kyoto

  • Featured Designers

  • Poster Designers

  • July 05, 2022

  • December 14, 2017
    Gallery Talk No.1
    kyoto ddd gallery

    Carolien Glazenburg, who curated this exhibition, presented on overview of Wim Crouwel's biography. Crouwel was born in Groningen, the Netherlands, in 1928. At Academie Minerva and the institute now known as Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Crouwel received an education in functionalism. Not long after starting his professional career at Enderberg, he came in contact with Swiss design, and in particular he was greatly taken by sans-serif and other fonts nonexistent in the Netherlands in those days. In 1963 Crouwel became a co-founder of Total Design, a multidisciplinary design studio. In his work for the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Crouwel created posters infused with his interpretations of the featured artists, and it was from his abundant work requested by the museum that his posters employing his famous grid system were born. The grid system enabled efficient conveyance of instructions to his assistants. For many years Crouwel battled criticism that he simplifies reality too much, to which he ultimately replied, "I'm an engineer captivated aesthetics."

  • March 03, 2018
    Gallery Talk No.2
    kyoto ddd gallery

    This Gallery Talk was by Helmut Schmid, a close acquaintance of Wim Crouwel, and his daughter, designer Nicole Schmid, served as interpreter. Mr. Schmid began by introducing various New Alphabet fonts, using the horizontal and vertical beauty of works by Mondrian. He said he was so fascinated by New Alphabet, he used it on New Years cards without permission. In 1966, a colleague at the design office in Osaka where Mr. Schmid was working, Will van Sambeek, introduced him to Crouwel, leading to his first meeting with Crouwel, who was to serve as supervisor of the Dutch pavilion at Osaka Expo '70. He went on to describe how he had subsequently visited Total Design and got to know Crouwel better when he held an exhibition at a print museum in Amsterdam. Mr. Schmid lovingly introduced Crouwel's poster works for the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam featuring abundant changes effected by grid, his many written contributions, and Crouwel's works, based on the biographical details cited in gggBooks, whose publication Mr. Schmid oversaw.

  • December 05, 2017

    Kyoto University of Art and Design

    Professor Jun SAto spoke of the connection between Crouwel and 8vo, a design unit established in London in 1984. Crouwel forged his relationship through a post card he sent in to 2 "Typography Journal," a publication of 8vo. In 1988, he contributed an article to the journal's fifth issue, a special feature dedicated to the Dutch tendency to use lower-case lettering. Prior to leaving the director position on the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, he proposed holding an 8vo exhibition, which subsequently took place. Carolien Glazeburg, provided an overview of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, which was founded in 1895. From the museum's vast collection, she primarily introduced posters from France, Poland, Cuba, the Netherlands, Russia and Switzerland. In the second half, Mrs. Glazeburg spoke of the management policies implemented by the museum under its respective directors. She also touched on the fact that the new annex opened in 2012 was designed by Crouwel's son.

  • February 10, 2018
    Special Talk: The Creation of the Grid System and its Meaning"
    kyoto ddd gallery

    Yoshihisa Shirai presented a Special Talk spanning nearly four hours, punctuated only by a short break. To begin, he explained what a grid is: namely, a unit system governing book format, determined by type size and line spacing. In Japan, the system was introduced in the 1950s, and using a variety of examples Mr. Shirai analyzed its usage. In part 2 of his talk, he gave an overview of the 500-year history of typefaces and layout, starting from the Vatican's Bible as a book format derived from a handwritten copy, through the 42-line Gutenberg Bible, and on into Japan after the Meiji Restoration. In part 3, Mr. Shira introduced modern typography reworked from visual language and technology, newspaper and advertising fonts as book formats, etc. In part 4, he discussed the creation of the grid system as a quest after order, function, rationality and universal utility. Part 5 was dedicated to recent grid subdivision and multiple stratification, return from disarticulation, visualization and sound generation of language, etc., illustrated by abundant slides.


Photographer: YOSHIDA Akihito

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