aka piet zwart. there is little doubt that the work of piet zwart is worthy of lengthy study. i have several books about his work and am always eager to add to that collection. his work is coveted and commands a premium price. i have had to save up a bit before purchasing several pieces in my collection. many years ago, after being in gmund, germany, for several days working with the büttenfabrik gmund, i spent a couple of nights in munich. after a few days of art directing photography for their corporate brochure, wonderfully photographed by gentl and hyers, i was walking around and noticed a gallery exhibiting the work of mats gustafson, one of my wife’s favorites artist. just a few doors down was what I thought was a book store but turned out to be the auction house scheider henn. coincidentally, they were having an auction featuring bauhaus-related materials. needless to say, i was pretty excited. i was able to view many of the lots and there was a group of items from holland, including this simple brochure for the door manufacturer bruynzeel i am sharing today. zwart did a great deal of work for bruynzeel. there is so much to this little jewel. the lower case—no surprise i like that. the transparency. the use of color. all combine to make a rich experience for a mundane subject. there were several other items in this auction which i will share another time. enjoy.
often a collection begins when i buy another collection. the ephemera society of america lists me as a “collector of collections.” however this collection began when i bought the first edition of eric gill’s an essay on typography at the strand book store in new york city. i was struck by the fact that the title was not an essay on typography but printing & piety, an essay on life and works in the england of 1931, & particularly typography. it is the dust jacket of this second edition that has been etched into my visual memory and i was surprised to note a difference in the first edition. the solid red of the second edition clearly signals us to take notice. as i collected the later editions, i discovered differences with each one. the third edition makes a huge shift from the second by eliminating the red front and green back—a mistake in my mind.
when i speak about my collections, it is necessary to qualify and categorize. this is because when i rate my collections, i always consider which i would keep should i ever have to purge. without question it would be my letterhead collection. i have many beautiful letterheads and i emphasize many. this bauhaus letterhead, signed by walter gropius on page two, is framed and exhibited at my home and holds a special place for many reasons. one being that i won it on ebay. yes, ebay. the second is that printed at the bottom of this letterhead are the words “wir schreiben alles klien, denn wir sparen damit zeit.” translated this means “we write everything small, thus saving time.” this translation comes via robin kinross‘ article from 8vo’s issue of octavo 88.5 from 1988. doris pesendorfer, an austrian graphic designer who used to work with me, translated it as “we are writing everything in lower case in order to save time;” while a german client and friend, korbinian kohler, translated it as “we spell everything small because we can save time that way.” i love these variations but what i love most is that herbert bayer, the designer of this letterhead, felt so strongly as to include it at the bottom, emphasizing the bauhaus philosophy in such a simple way. after reading kinross’ article, i grabbed the herbert bayer monograph he published in 1967 and rediscovered he designed the whole book in lower case. even better, he states on the title page “footnote, this book has been set in one alphabet only, according to the theories presented in the articles on pages 26 and 78.” both articles, one published in 1925 and the other in 1960, state bayer’s beliefs in a universal alphabet and legibility. so, roughly 40 years later, he is sticking to his principles. in honor of “saving time,” i have decided to use lower case for my blog. i hope you approve.