Type through the Low Countries

Posted on 29 April 2008 in:

Amsterdam: Painted script

Last week, the MA typeface design students spend a few days roaming through the Low Countries. This was a great trip, and Flickr is already bursting with photos (for more links, go to the bottom of this post). On Sunday, April 20th, I arrival in Amsterdam and checked in the Times Hotel. That’s right, it was called the Times hotel, just like the typeface! Thanks for booking the digs, Joke!

Paul and I shared an attic room, which was the nicest of the block we had reserved. I spent most of my first day walking around the city. Amsterdam is very pretty, although I must admit that—after a while—everything starts to look the same. Every street seems to have a canal running in the middle of it, picturesque bridges, etc. On the first night, Mathieu, Michi, Yvonne, Manu, and I ate at a Chinese restaurant, which was just awful. The rest of the food I had during the trip was top notch, though.

Monday April 21st

The Times Hotel, Amsterdam

Photo: Paul Hunt.

Type designers not leading at Letting

Photo: Yvonne Schüttler.

In the morning several of us gathered for a wonderful breakfast at a cafe named Letting, which sounds a lot like “leading;” another perfect type designer location.

Joh. Enschede in Haarlem

Photo: Yvonne Schüttler.

After breakfast, we met up with Gerard Unger to take a train to the Enschedé museum in Haarlem. This was a beautiful little private operation in the basement of the Joh. Enschedé plant. We saw a number of goodies, including some of Gerard’s first professional work, drawings by Bram de Does, and Non Plus Ultra sized type (2.5 point!). Additionally, many of us purchased copies of a phenomial (and quite large) book entitled Typefoundries in the Netherlands.

Club Gerard

Photo: Yvonne Schüttler.

At 11

Photo: Yvonne Schüttler.

Juanita Unger is a rabbit

Photo: Yvonne Schüttler.

After returning to Amsterdam for drinks with Gerhard in a private club near the city center, we at dinner at a restaurant named 11, on the 11th floor of the new bank building turned Stedelijk Museum.

Tuesday March 22nd

After another breakfast at Letting, we went into the rare book library of the University of Amsterdam, where we looked at Bram de Does drawings for Lexicon, Jan van Krimpen’s drawings for Cancelleresca Bastarda, and Imre Reiner’s drawings for Reiner Script. We followed this with a trade ride to Gerard’s house, where we had dinner together with him, his wife, and his rabbit.

Wednesday March 23rd

At the museum of the book

Photo: Michael Hochleitner.

Early in the morning, we checked out of the Times Hotel and took a train to the Haugue to visit the Meermanno museum. This was a brilliant place, and we viewed a number of things, including 1920s brochures by Piet Zwart, a Carolingian manuscript from the 800s, a Jarry manuscript from mid 17th century France, a Jenson edition from 1470, and Jan van Krimpen drawings for Romulus (including Romulus Sans and Romulus Greek).

What is hidden behind this smile?

We walked down the street to the Royal Academy of Arts (KABK) to have lunch with the Type and Media students, but I am not going to comment about that here. Later in the afternoon, we got on a train for Antwerp and left the Netherlands.

Thursday March 24th

We spent most of Thursday in the Plantin–Moretus museum. Many thanks to Guy Hutsebaut, who explained the history of the press room to us, as well as showing us punches cut by Claude Garamond, Hendrik van den Keere, and Robert Granjon. In the afternoon, we spent time in the attic looking at some of the museum’s old books with Gerry, including an incunabula that Nicholas Jenson printed in one of his rotunda types, an Estienne dictionary, and Plantin’s polyglot Bibles.

Yvonne analyzes De Aenta

Photo: Paul Hunt.

The day closed with a lovely dinner at a restaurant whose covers were set with Helvetica. I headed back to Reading on Friday, although some of my classmates remained in beautiful Belgium through the weekend.

Do you want to see more photos of Reading type design students in the Low Countries? I know that you do. Here are a few links: mine, hers, his, his, and hers.