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Hansje van Halem in New York

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday June 8, 2017

Hansje van Halem is an independent graphic designer who opened her Amsterdam studio in 2003. Widely known in Europe for her books, typographics and posters, van Halem is a highly experimental, risk-taking artist so unafraid of failure that in 2014 she published a book that includes many of her rejected designs.

Her practice continues to broaden, with surface design, one of her lost-time obsessions, recently taking a larger chunk of her time. In 2015 she created a major project for a restored Gothic revival cathedral in Zaandam. Commissioned by the municipality of Zaanstad, van Halem designed a new floor that would designate the cathedral’s entrance space as a "village square" for community events.

The challenge was to create something entirely new that would combine her contemporary technology-based graphics with the austere neo-Gothic architecture of the church to create an integrated yet visually arresting environment.

The final design combines an interplay of undulating waving lines, in a soft shade of blue derived from the stained glass windows, together with a linear design in earth tones, derived from the neo-Gothic architectural ornaments of the church. Executed in mosaic tile, the new floor evokes the river of life, baptismal water and the nearby river Zaan--associations that have historically united members of the church community.

Hansje van Halem will give a talk at the upcoming Typographics 2017 conference, focusing on design attempts that did not make the cut and ones that are waiting for the right opportunity. According to the program notes, she will cover the benefits of 10+ years design experiments, failures and unused starting points that have led to sweet revenge by up-cycling and up-scaling.

This talk is scheduled for Saturday, June 17, 2017, at 10:30am as part of the main Typographics conference schedule, register 
See Typographics 2017 in DART here

Photos ©Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

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