Piet Zwart was a quirky man. He pushed thought nowhere in the vicinity of "the box" when creating his designs or drawings. He practiced insane hours, often working well into the night. He was difficult, and his standards were "impossible" according to other designers. But because of this, Zwart became an innovator, and a pioneer for modern design.
Zwart was born in Zanndijk, a city in the Netherlands on May 28, 1885.
Seeing his potential early on, Zwart's parents pushed him to the Amsterdam School of Applied Arts to broaden his talents. Here he studied a number of subjects including painting, architecture and typesetting.
Zwart had a social logic, and was a practical thinker. Later on when he was drafted into the army during his studies, he refused to participate in the front lines and instead was put to work in an ambulance.
In the 20s, Zwart began to work for a famed architect named Berlage. Berlage had a commission that he was unable to finish in the allotted time, and came to Zwart for help. Zwart then created a beautiful yellow glass tea set that with efficiency in mind, everything had it's place.
Zwart was in an artistic rut when he received this design commission. And yet, the piece would become the high point of his design career. However, with his inexperience in working with print, he made a strange combination of decisions for his piece. Capital letters next to lowercase and three dimensional photographs contrasting two dimensional typography created diversity and balance.
Zwart was a mastermind when it came to design, churning out art left and right. It becomes difficult to showcase every single one of his works without seeming long winded. However, it seems unfair to discount it completely. Here are some other samples of his designs.
Trio-Reclameboek Inside-Page 1931
Vickers House Advertisement
Bruynzeel kitchen presentation 1939
LAGA rubber flooring, folder for Vickers House 1923
Internationale Tentoonstelling Op Filmgebied (International film festival) Poster for film festival in the Hague
Piet Zwart Packaging
Brusse's Uitgeversmaatschappij, . Binding design by Piet Zwart.
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Piet Zwart microsite designed by Haley Ferro. Cited design work belongs to Piet Zwart.