This research documentation on Wim Crouwel’s treatment of images in early and later work questions his self-description as a neutral designer.

From 2015, at Design Academy Eindhoven.

More Info: A 1958 catalog of the Van Abbemuseum’s constant exhibition founded the base of the research. Comparing this catalog to other designer’s catalogs of that same exhibition, Crouwel seems to be the most dominant designer in the representation. Instead of placing images at the center of a page, Crouwel builds up tension through the assembly. This finding contradicts Crouwels ever repeated self-description as ‘neutral designer’. ‘I am a functionalist, who has too much burden on the aesthetics’, becomes a rather cynical quote.
Comparing Crouwel’s catalogs to those of Willem Sandberg (who, like Crouwel designed catalogs for the Van Abbemuseum and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam), shows a contrasting approach to design: Sandberg viewed the museum as a meeting place. Here Crouwel’s display, the visitors are invisible or unimportant.