TD 63-73 and the golden age of Total Design

The next book from Unit Editions is a timely study of influential Dutch studio, Total Design. TD 63-73 is an insider’s account, in fact, written by the studio’s Ben Bos

The next book from Unit Editions is a timely study of influential Dutch studio, Total Design. TD 63-73 is an insider’s account, in fact, written by the studio’s Ben Bos…

According to the post at uniteditions.com, TD 63-73 “describes how a group of idealistic Dutch designers came together to form a multidisciplinary design studio that helped shape the future of graphic design.”

Total Design was founded by Wim Crouwel, Benno Wissing, Friso Kramer, and the Schwarz Brothers in Amsterdam in 1963. As the title suggests, Unit’s book will cover the studio’s work from 1963 to 1973, and promises an “up close and personal” history of the studio.

Adrian Shaughnessy, editor and co-founder of Unit with Tony Brook, told us a bit more about the book, namely, why a study of Total Design has been so long in the making, and what kind of legacy their work in the 60s and 70s has left. Shaughnessy also hints at an interesting Bos anecdote, concerning the influence of London’s design scene on the nascent Amsterdam team.

“Total themselves have produced a number of books over the years, mostly as promotional brochures,” Shaughnessy explains. “Most notably this odd shaped one from 1983. But this new book is the first insider’s view – and the first to offer a personal and fairly objective historical view. It’s written by Ben Bos who was there from the start and it chronicles Total’s golden era – 1963 to 1973. Wim Crouwel read the text and he said Ben had mentioned things that he’d forgotten!”

“Total’s legacy has been substantial,” Shaughnessy adds. “Their work still stands up today – clear, functional but with real expressive bite. There is a considerable legacy in their pioneering use of grids, their expertise in logotypes and their groundbreaking identity work.

“One interesting thing that Ben notes is the influence of English designers and design groups on Total. The first thing they did before opening their doors in Amsterdam in 1963 was to come to London and talk to FHK Henrion and Fletcher/Forbes/Gill, who they saw as real pioneers in professional design.

“The Swiss influence is often remarked on in connection with Total’s design work, but in the professional sphere, they looked to London.”

The book is published in April (£35), but pre-orders will be entitled to free postage to anywhere in the world. TD 63-73 is written by Ben Bos, edited by Tony Brook and Adrian Shaughnessy and designed by Spin. More details at uniteditions.com.

The Design Museum’s exhibition, Wim Crouwel: A Graphic Odyssey, opens on March 30. More details at designmuseum.org.

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