The Style of the Stedelijk

When it reopened on 23 September, Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum gained not only a spectacular new building but also a new visual identity. The Style of the Stedelijk: Designing for a Museum provides a fascinating look at the museum’s unique relationship with graphic design and its quest for a new visual identity. A Dutch-language launch of the book and its accompanying documentary took place at the museum on 28 September.

In The Style of the Stedelijk, director Lex Reitsma and author Frederike Huygen trace the process that began in 2008 with the opening of a competition for a new visual identity under museum director Gijs van Tuyl. The book looks at the participating designers and their proposals and the visual identity developed by Mevis & Van Deursen under current museum director Ann Goldstein.

The story also takes in the museum's eventful history and its unique relationship to graphic design. Former Stedelijk head Willem Sandberg is considered the first museum director to have given his institution a consistent, recognisable visual identity, setting himself apart in the Netherlands and abroad. Others followed his example and subsequently maintained close links with designers. As a commissioning client, the museum played an important role in the development of the work of top Dutch graphic designers, from director-designer Sandberg, Wim Crouwel, Anthon Beeke and Walter Nikkels to Experimental Jetset and Mevis & Van Deursen. The Stedelijk Museum continues to act as a leader among cultural institutions in its implementation of consistent, recognisable design.

Graphic designer and filmmaker Lex Reitsma directed the 2011 documentary Rietveld’s Chair, the first instalment in the Premsela Design Stories series. Author Frederike Huygen studied art history in Leiden and Amsterdam and works as a freelance design researcher and publicist.

Premsela Design Stories
The Style of the Stedelijk comprises part of the Premsela Design Stories series, in which Premsela and nai010 publishers tell tales from Dutch design history. Each instalment centres on an iconic object that is characteristic of a particular period and has played an important role in design’s evolution. The series began with Rietveld's Chair, a book in which art historian Marijke Kuper investigated the birth, use and reception of a modernist classic, accompanied by graphic designer and filmmaker Lex Reitsma’s documentary DVD looking at the first, lost examples of the chair.

A second printing of Rietveld's Chair was issued in 28 September.

Examples of Mevis & Van Deursen's visual identity for the Stedelijk Museum.
The Style of the Stedelijk
View the trailer
The Style of the Stedelijk
Publisher: nai010 publishers
Author: Frederike Huygen
Director and designer: Lex Reitsma
Language: Dutch/English
Format: Paperback and DVD, 168pp
ISBN: 978-94-6208-019-5
Cover price: €19.95
Available from: Bookshops including NAi Booksellers