René Knip ARK-ABC

René Knip is a bit of an outsider in the Dutch type community. Although a favourite student of type designer and calligrapher Chris Brand during the latter’s last years as a professor at Academie St Joost in Breda, he never connected to the bookish tradition that Brand stood for, and that inspired type designers from The Hague and Arnhem. His are the broad gestures of a sculptor, the eclectic image-making of an ambitious artist who thinks big and appropriates shapes and proportions from decorative and functionalist tendencies alike. The early work of Knip was, of course, featured in Dutch Type; he agreed to give a lecture, alongside Wim Crouwel, when the book was inaugurated in Haarlem in March 2004. He invited me to contribute the texts to his first catalogue, ARK-ABC, the same year. Inspired by the extreme oblong formats of 19th-century type and lettering books, the little volume was designed to be a striking object as much as an attractive catalogue of his alphabets (ABC) and his object (turn the book around: ARK).