Source collection Hendrik Wijdeveld
Wijdeveld was the editor-in-chief of the Wendingen, which was a magazine published between 1918 and 1932. Its goal was to publish issues in contemporary architecture, and connect it with other forms of art and design. Just as in the content, Wendingen was anti-traditional in the form as well. The typography was combining sans-serif letters - being subjects of heavy discussions at the time; headline type and ornaments constructed from compositor’s brass rule. All this on a square format and bound with japanese binding. To emphasize the collaborative and experimental nature of the project, each cover was designed by another artist.
Wijdeveld was a restless social and organizer. In 1931 he published a booklet titled Naar Een Internationale Werkgemeenschap (To An International Work Community), where he gave account of his plans concerning a new — somewhat anti-Bauhaus — international art and design school. Being a multidisciplinary creator, he didn’t just plan the educational programme and designed the book, but also included architectural plans for the buildings of the school.
Wijdeveld was a great admirer of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, which he did, as usual, in an active way. He wanted to introduce the work of Lloyd Wright to the Dutch - and European -audience. He organised an exhibition about his work in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam - for which he designed all the graphic materials - and he released an issue of Wendingen dedicated to Lloyd Wright’s work.
What is considered to be Wijdeveld finest typographic work is a collection of Japanese tales and poetry, titled Der Geesten Gemoeting (1927). The collection of five booklets is set in a sans serif type, combined with custom constructed type by Wijdeveld, Chinese characters transformed to fit the rectangular constructor system, and geometric decorations. The books are letterpress printed in amber, black and gold, and bound with Japanese binding. Finally they are kept together in an exclusive slipcase that can be closed by two ivory pins.
Probably the most obvious mark of the architect working as a graphic designer is the sense of construction in the graphic work. This can be very clearly observed in Wijdeveld’s typography. One can see the curiosity and play with the building blocks that are put together in various formations to create type. These Constructed Typefaces are designed from an assigned set of geometric shapes, iterating through all the possible combinations that would give the familiar letter-shapes. As the trial text shows, they were aimed as headlines for the Wendingen magazine.
What can be understood as a cry for peace and international collaboration was Wijdeveld’s proposal titled 15 miles into the earth. He suggested to dig this 15 miles deep hole in the heart of Amsterdam, in the Vondelpark. The hole would serve as an international geological research centre, covered with a glass dome - so that people can peak inside. On the bottom of the hole a “world theatre” would find its place, where the primordial forces of nature and human creative energies would collide and create new ideas.
Wijdeveld’s engagement with the different fields of artisitic production, and his active participation in cultural life is reflected in the number of posters designed for the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, but other cultural institutions, mainly theatres.
Wijdeveld, the longest living Dutch artist ever, seemed to never get tired. In the ’60-s, when he was around 80 years old, he was asked to design the cover of the Hitweek magazine, a music and lifestyle periodical of the hippie youth. After a long break in self-designed lettering, he once again created wild and dynamic headlines for the underground publication.
The project Cityless City is an answer to the uncontrolled urban proliferation, that Europe experienced in the first decades of the 20th century. Wijdeveld was worried that cities grow too fast, and in an unorganised manner, which would lead to their collapse. He proposed the organic integration of human habitats and nature in the model of a metropolis. Historical centres would remain intact, and relatively closed off. The new living areas would be concentrated in high-rise buildings along radial boulevards, which would be surrounded by large parks.
Some unconventional Bathing Cap designs show that Wijdeveld was a true polyhistor, and that he thought in an integrated way about architecture and human life. As a complementary to his plan for the Pier in Zaandvoort he made designs for bathing accessories that the visitors of the new national park could wear.
In 1930 a World Expo (Wereldtentoonstelling) was held in Antwerp, with the topic of colonies, navigation (zeevsaart) and Flemish art. Wijdeveld was asked to design the Dutch Pavilion for the event. Next to the construction of the pavilion, Wijdeveld also designed a booklet, in which he published the architectural plans, and explained the concept behind the pavilion - Which was rather his general ideology about 20th century urban life.
One of the applied projects where Wijdeveld took part on was the Plan West. This initiative was launched in 1921 by the Amsterdam Municipality and gave the assignment to the Amsterdam School architects to build about 6000 new worker’s flats. This time the young architect’s ideas about socially engaged architecture could be put into action. The dwellings of the Hoofdweg - still standing today - were constructed according to his design.
As a full-service graphic designer Wijdeveld did not only create posters and books, but ventured into all fields of printed matter production: he made mailing paper, invitation cards, envelopes, post-stamps, theatre tickets and diploma certificates… and probably the line could be continued.
Next to the editorship of Wendingen, Wijdeveld also designed for the weekly architecture magazine ARCHITECTURA (Bouwkundige Weekblad). Here he designed from time to time the cover, but also the inner pages. One finds typical constructed headlines and ornaments with simple sans-serif layouts.