From 16 July till 26 August 1999|
The University Library has dedicated an exhibition to the graphic designer Bram de Does. In connection with this exhibition a monograph on Bram de Does will be published next year by De Buitenkant. In July 1999, Bram de Does will celebrate his 65th birthday. Moreover, the University Library has recently acquired 38 working drawings of the Lexicon, a typefont designed by De Does. These drawings are a natural addition to the collection of example types and books on typefonts owned by the library.
Bram de Does is the son of an Amsterdam printer, who founded the firm Systema, a small printing shop in a working-class neighbourhood, in 1917. His decision to go to the Amsterdamse Grafische School (Amsterdam School for Printers) was not surprising. In 1958 he was engaged by the printer and type-foundry Joh. Enschedé and Sons in Haarlem. This old firm was internationally renowned, not least because of the elegant fonts and typography of Jan van Krimpen. Except for a short period, De Does stayed with Enschedé until his retirement.
His first designs were still inpsired by Jan van Krimpen, whose work he greatly admires, but he soon developed a more contemporary approach to the classical typography of books. He began to allow lower case letters on title pages and in headings, and introduced asymmetry. Sanserifs, however, he hardly ever used. Characteristic of De Does is his attention to so-called micro-typography: has the right letter been chosen, are the spacings between words and lines right? He analyses the typesetting in meticulous detail, and is hard to satisfy. It was not for nothing that the compositors at Enschedé called him 'one point in, one point out'.
Trinité and Lexicon
He has designed a large number of books for Enschedé -
several of which won prizes for best designed book - as well as
matter, such as menus, leaflets, posters, etc. However, Bram de Does
is best known as the designer of two type fonts which are very much
present in the Dutch typographical landscape: Trinité and
De Does is not only a designer of type fonts, he has also designed a great number of bibliophile editions, which he composes in his own print shop in original type. They are the books of a typographer with a great respect for the culture of reading. Both for their technical perfection and for their impeccable sense of style, they are highly respected internationally. In 1993 he received the prestigious Premio internazionale biennale Felice Feliciano in Verona for a publication written by Ernst Braches (former UvA librarian) printed by his own Spectator Press.
More than just a picture book
So far no serious study had yet been devoted to the work of
De Does, but he had been interviewed several times. The monograph
intends to be more than just a picture book. The American type
John A. Lane treats the Trinité and the Lexicon in great
and places both letters in their historical context. Some well-known
graphic designers, both from the Netherlands and abroad, discuss the
function of these letters in their own designs.
What can be seen in the exhibition?
At the exhibition in the University Library books designed by De Does will be on view, including publications by his Spectator Press, working drawings for the Trinité and Lexicon, as well as applications of these letters by other graphic designers.
Last modified: 15 July 1999
Editor: Monique Kooijmans