Piet Zwart

The extensive series of advertisements made between 1923 and 1933 for the Nederlandse Kabelfabriek in Delft was the major source of Piet Zwart's (1885-1977) fame as a typographical designer. In these advertisements he experimented above all with a wide range of mostly sans serif types, ingredients from the case of display types, and lines in all shapes and sizes, but from the end of the 1920s he added an important new dimension to his work by the use of photomontage. The best-known examples of this composite work are Delft Kabels, a brochure from 1931 and of course Het boek van PTT from 1938. In addition Zwart made a number of eye-catching covers for the Brusse publishing house in Rotterdam, in which photomontage featured largely and prominently. A striking example is the design voor Kamergymnastiek voor iedereen, by the ardent promoter of gymnastics, Hubert van Blijenburgh, who published five other works on the subject with the same publishers.

The design strikes us as very consistent because the lettering runs parallel to the fundamental elements of the photograph, while a dynamic vitality befitting the subject is achieved, which is intensified by the sharp diagonal between the orange, illustrated instruction sheet and the window frame. However, Zwart's work for this book was restricted to the binding design; the lay-out of the text block could hardly be called revolutionary - the preface starts with an orange ‘D’ from the Hollandsche Mediaeval series of initials by De Roos.

Bringing in a designer like Zwart is characteristic of the care taken of their publications by the Brusses. Earlier (cf. no. 85) they had already given an innovating designer like De Roos all the scope he needed, now they did the same to the pioneers of Realism Revisited. Examples resulting from such a broad-minded, progressive attitude are Zwart's binding designs for the famous series ‘Monografieën over Filmkunst’, and interesting typographical experiments like Paul Schuitema's design for Stad by B. Stroman (1932).

Kamergymnastiek voor iedereen. In 10 lessen. W.P. Hubert van Blijenburgh. Rotterdam, W.L. & J. Brusse's Uitgeversmaatschappij, [1930]. Binding design by Piet Zwart. Brusse A 681

Kamergymnastiek voor iedereen. In 10 lessen. W.P. Hubert van Blijenburgh. Rotterdam, W.L. & J. Brusse's Uitgeversmaatschappij, [1930]. Binding design by Piet Zwart. Brusse A 681

Literature

K. Broos. Piet Zwart 1885-1977. Amsterdam 1982
W.L. & J. Brusse's Uitgeversmaatschappij 1903-1965. Rotterdam 1993.