Dutch designer Ben Bos was the first speaker to grace the stage at this year’s OFFSET festival in Dublin which kicked off this morning and from where CR will be reporting back over the next three days…
Bos hardly needs an introduction here on the CR blog – he is, of course, best known for his work completed at Dutch design group Total Design where he worked for 28 years alongside Wim Crouwel. And if Bos got across one thing in his presentation of dozens of slides of logos, posters and graphic identity systems – it was that he has been nothing short of prolific over the years.
He explained his approach to graphic design as being transparent, straightforward, functional (but always with an injection of emotion) and durable – with a compete lack of regard for what happens to be graphically on-trend. It’s an approach that has seen some of his logotypes in use for many decades. He was a designer and consultant, for example, for Dutch furniture company Ahrend for 50 years from 1954 – 2004. “I like to design for the long haul”, he said.
There was also some great anecdotal content and personal insight – Bos showed a selection of his photography, demonstrating his love of abstract image construction, as well as some of his drawings (above) and paintings.
He also told a great story of how, in 1977 he was commissioned to create an identity system for a Canadian shipping company called Chase. He drew up a clever logo which contained the Canadian maple leaf emblem at its centre with arrows on either side plus designs for ship liveries and other branding collateral. Happy with his work he went for another meeting with the firm only to find the offices cordoned off by police tape. He had, it turned out, produced the work (with which he was rather pleased) for bunch of conmen, ultimately giving their investment con considerable graphic clout. Oops.
“Whatever we do as designers, can have enormous impact on ourselves and the world in which we play our role,” he concluded of the episode.