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This is an open invitation to Niessen's bigger than life typography

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et's get things straight. Richard Niessen’s work bounds to blow you out of this world. Not only because he specializes in delightful typographic compositions but also because he has this kind of work that reminds you of simply nothing. One can hardly find an ensemble of work that could stand visually parallel to his. The Dutch designer works on a body of work with a strong preference for print, graphics and music, with an ever-expanding vocabulairy of (homemade) letters, sign systems and ornaments inviting the viewer to wander, guess and hopefully find the meaning behind the medium and he is a truly versatile creative.


“A Hermetic Compendium of Masonic Typography” exhibition backstage

Richard Niessen works for various clients including artists like Jennifer Tee and Ad de Jong, exhibition spaces as Tijdelijk Museum and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and organizations like the Fonds BKVB and Res Artis. But what we like more are his personal projects (such as “Based on Bas Oudt” and his traveling overview exhibition “TM City”) that lead to experiments and collaborations with other designers and artists.


“A Hermetic Compendium of Masonic Typography” exhibition backstage

Richard Niessen’s exhibition for Une Saison Graphique at La Havre this past spring was an intriguing architectural myriad of posters and poles, a city like structure made of letters and colors and everything in between. In an interview with Sophie Sand the Dutch designer talked about his inspiration and his conceptual approach towards the typographic medium. “I was thinking of making a compendium, it’s a sort of collection of things. For instance you have a game compendium and a lot of my posters are like game boards, and the exhibition is a collection. From the very beginning I was looking for way to create a world out of the posters and it was just a way to connect them.

A non exhaustive summary of his lifework and an invitation to discover Niessen's variable geometry playground

I was very dissatisfied with the fact that the posters were always flat and in one dimension so I made a lot of sketches, at first it was more of an ordinary exhibition. An intern made an installation and I became really angry and I put all the poles through the posters. Because I wanted to make one thing out of it. It was a challenge, also technically. We calculated that if you have 3 poles and they are connected then it would be strong enough. We cut the holes in the posters by laser cutting, they all have different angles, so there was only one way to build it (...) Then I thought that it would be nice to color the poles, to make some kind of code out of it. They refer to these kind of images that I always collect (...) So I made this set, and then we started to make the first set up to see if it would work and then it turned out that it’s actually quite strong. Then I had to paint the poles and do all the lettering on them, it was a lot of work!”


“A Hermetic Compendium of Masonic Typography” exhibition backstage

Typographic posters have always been Richard’s favorite game of expression. He likes to see them hang on a wall, but he gets an even bigger thrill out of playing with them, stack- ing them up, cutting them out, twisting them around like a roadmap or a board game. They are his favorite means of expression. He likes to think of books as a compilation of posters. The set of 26 serigraphs featured in “A Hermetic Compendium of Masonic Typography”, and exhibited for the first time on the occasion of the Saison Graphique 2014 in Le Havre, should be described not only as specimens, but also as clues to Niessen’s universe. This non exhaustive summary of his lifework with an introduction by Tony Côme, the 136 paged Compendium of Niessen’s limitless experimental field allows links to be forged between exhibits, creating a network from which three main constellations emerge: Sign, Symbol and Ornament. You are invited to get a copy of his variable geometry playground here.


                              “A Hermetic Compendium of Masonic Typography” book by Richard Niessen


                              “A Hermetic Compendium of Masonic Typography” book by Richard Niessen


                              “A Hermetic Compendium of Masonic Typography” book by Richard Niessen


                              “A Hermetic Compendium of Masonic Typography” book by Richard Niessen


                              “A Hermetic Compendium of Masonic Typography” book by Richard Niessen