Marc van der Heijde Studio Dumbar Rotterdam The Netherlands – I Used to Be a Design Student

ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

Marc van der Heijde (Studio Dumbar)

PROFESSIONAL YEARS

16

A VALUABLE QUALITY FOR A DESIGN STUDENT + A DESIGN PROFESSIONAL

Curiosity + Curiosity (hey, I used to be a design student too)

FAVOURITE FOOD NOW

Thai food

YOUR MOST VALUED POSSESSION NOW

A Japanese Yamaha grand piano from the 1990s

YEAR OF PROJECT

2006/2007

PROFESSIONAL PROJECT BRIEF

A new visual identity for the Dutch Chamber Choir (Nederlands Kamerkoor) to suit the world-renowned ensemble

CLIENT

Nederlands Kamerkoor; Leo Samama (general manager) and Anne Douqué (business manager)

COLLABORATOR(S)

Daniel Markides, Ties Alfrink (graphic designers), Simon Scheiber (motion designer), Paul van der Laan (type designer)

TECHNOLOGY

Graphic design and type design, with ubiquitous use of the computer

TIME SPENT

6 months

TYPEFACE

Franklin Gothic (as basis for NKK Gothic) and Eureka

WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS PROJECT?

The choir always performs textbased material. That is, let’s say, the tangible part. But music is ephemeral; the moment the text is sung and music made, it is gone. We set out to do something paradoxical: to capture in form this fleeting character of music.

Starting with the textual content, we adjusted letterforms by breaking open their closed shapes. This led to a unique typeface that is the core of the identity: any text set in that font immediately refers to the choir, both visually and in the character of their ‘product’.

WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT IT?

We made one series of posters. We had to work with an overload of information that greatly diminished their impact. The graphic style’s relative light ness does require clear choices.

OUTCOMES

The identity won a Red Dot Award and the corporate animation was awarded a European Design Merit. Over time, it hasn’t lost its initial appeal at all; I still respond to the freshness of this unique and fitting design. The animation can be seen online: http://vimeo.com/studiodumbar

FEEDBACK

It was a genuine pleasure getting feedback from the members of the choir when they saw the end result. These people are very committed to the group and their work, and so were critical and demanding. We presented the concept of the identity through animation and the response was overwhelming. Choir members even suggested using the techniques in every single performance. And we still get very good reactions whenever the identity and animation are shown to students, designers and potential clients.

ANYTHING ELSE

This project gave me a chance to work with Paul van der Laan, a Dutch type designer educated at the Royal Academy in The Hague. The orginal typeface, Franklin Gothic, was adapted for the purpose of opening up letterforms, and the resultant NKK Gothic font was designed in three different weights. Great care has also been given to the typography of the programme listings, at the top of the right pages. Single text lines almost always bring together the composer’s name, when he lived, the name of the piece and when it was written. The Eureka typeface has some very sharp characteristics and we spent quite some time looking for the right font size, spacing, etc. to bring harmony to its appearance.

DO YOU TEACH?

No.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO TEACH DESIGN?

The most important thing I learned at the Academy was to look. Drawing is a fundamental stage; it releases you from what you (think you) know, and forces you to concentrate on what you actually see. The next step is interpretation, but now in a conscious manner. If I were a tutor, I would teach typo graphy. That requires the same kind of looking. I like the idea of studying ‘historic’ examples, principles, etc. and then letting the students think to what extent they want to get away from that.