Graphic design

Architectural design


Selected Publications

Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 7, 2011

Internation Herald Tribune, January 31, 2011

Eye 78, Winter 2010

Nya Upplagan, May 2010

International Herald Tribune, May 2, 2010

The Artistry of Inconspicuous Quality
By Alice Rawsthorn

What is good design? Something that does the job well? That looks and feels good? That’s environmentally and ethically responsible? That does something new with technology? That enables us to do something we couldn’t do before, or to do it better?

Good design does any or all of those things, and more. But it needn’t necessarily do them noisily or conspicuously. Some of the most inspiring design projects are so gentle and subtle that they go unnoticed. They are what I call “quietly good design” and, despite their modesty, our lives are the better for them. Here are some examples that I’ve come across recently.


Don’t be deterred by the title. This book is literally “An Atlas of the New Dutch Water Defence Line,” with facts and figures on soil and clay types, and diagrammatic deconstructions of precisely how water is drained from particular polders. But it is so much more than a drab tome for levee nerds and military history buffs, because it was designed by Joost Grootens.

He is the dazzlingly ingenious Dutch graphic designer who has reinvented the atlas by devising new ways of making complex data seem engaging and enlightening. Typically he does so by translating that data into clear, visually compelling images that we can understand instinctively.

That’s what makes this “Atlas” so compelling. By creating such a vivid picture of a centuries-old network of forts, bunkers, dams and polders, originally designed to repel invading armies by flooding large areas of The Netherlands, the book shows how it has influenced not just the landscape, but the Dutch way of life.

Grafik, Issue 183, March 2010

Items, #1 2010, January 5, 2010

VPRO De Avonden, December 15, 2009

International Herald Tribune, November 29, 2009

Rotterdam Design Prize, November 29, 2009

Dutch Profiles, September 2009

Archined, May 20, 2009

Wit wit