August 21, 2020


Published by nai publishers, Text by Rick Poynor. Jan van Toorn is one of the most significant and influential Dutch graphic designers to have. Third in the heavily subsidised series ‘Graphic design in the Netherlands’, Jan van Toorn, Critical Practice takes on the difficult task of exploring. Get this from a library! Jan van Toorn: critical practice. [Rick Poynor].

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Jan van Toorn: Critical Practice

Eye, the international review of graphic design, is a quarterly printed magazine about graphic design and visual culture. Jan van Toorn is a rarity: He stood in counterposition to Wim Cfitical, another designer who dominated the s and 70s in the Netherlands.

Van Toorn takes an interest in all forms of propaganda, manipulation and dissemination of information. From the s on, his priority has been to make the viewer of his designs aware of the mechanics of manipulation.


He is also a theorist, observing: As a result, his work requires the viewer to have the ability and willingness to interpret the work. The idea is simple: Poynor points to crucial books that Practiec Toorn has read and presents their main arguments at length.

The ten sections organise the book into thematic parts, though it also follows a chronological progression.

These exchanges present two irreconcilable approaches toward design, which have now become landmark moments in Dutch graphic design history. SpruijtDavies avoids using discernible grids, but prefers using scrapbook-like compositions, cutting out photos with deliberate clumsiness.

While it prqctice difficult to discuss the appropriateness of these design choices, the physical aspect of the book is not up to the standards of its subject. It was designed by Jan van Toorn.

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The design community needs a model to look up to, someone who balances the number of designers operating in the commercial sector. We are even willing to tolerate the occasional ambiguities.


This book is not only a commendable contribution to design history but a rare example of a graphic design monograph that celebrates forms and comprehensively presents a body of work that is deeply engaged in issues of social consciousness. Spread from Jan van Toorn: Critical Practicedesigned by Simon Davies.

It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shopwhere you can buy subscriptions and single issues. First pactice in Eye no. Buy Eye Purchase single issues, back issues or subscribe online now.