Visies op vormgeving: the voices of Dutch modernism 1874 – 1940

Book: 'Visies op vormgeving' - image of front cover

The book 'Visies op vormgeving', part 1 by Frederike Huygen

For those who read Dutch, Visies op vormgeving is a collection of letters, magazine articles, memoirs, reports that show how design came to occupy such a powerful position in Dutch society.

My current favorite is Margaretha Verwey’s account of her disastrous job interview at the Girls’ Industrial School she’s been asked to modernize. “Are those children to become no more than servants providing little furnishings in our houses? Or are we women, who will help these girls develop into people who understand their times and fit the century they live in?” They politely reject her, shocked by the modern ideas of this successful, self-made design entrepreneur.

The texts include debates and discussions of ornament, the idea of art as a community service, the role of the artist in advertising, the role of design in creating better dwellings and ways of living, style, and the relationship between client and designer.

Huygen’s selection, thematic organization and explanatory notes enable us to explore early modern Dutch design with its creators as our guides. And last but not least – it’s a beautifully designed book, which makes it even more of a pleasure to read.

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