"It is all there," Nikki explains. "We wanted the book to contain not just a standard chronology but also to really research our work in an altering world while our profession has been changing significantly because of new technologies." By using eleven personal themes (radical, impact, us & them, empower a.o.) thonik created a red thread connecting their body of work to the outside world, providing context for the central notion of why it is that we design.
The book is quite unique in its creation and objective. Thomas: "Designers don't normally reflect on the 'why' question of their work – it is something we leave to artists. We explain ourselves to clients but not in a general way and not looking for an overall motivation. We were quite surprised while making this book that no one else had tempted something similar." The urgency is there, since design is seen by some as the magic wand to fix all world problems. Why We Design sheds a more nuanced light. "We hope to encourage the dialogue about our profession and give air and fuel to the greater discussion of why it is that we design."
Why We Design is as much a time capsule (packed full with visual citations and highlights from thonik's oeuvre) where the reader can see the impact of a changing world on the work of a studio but it also underlines the remaining relevance of graphic design. It is a testimony of how the design practice works, to see it in action and what underlying reasons form a common denominator between thonik's iconic work for the Dutch Socialist Party and tampon brand Yoni.
British writer and designer Adrian Shaughnessy formulates it as following: "All thonik’s work is characterised by vibrant execution – they don’t do dull – and as with all the best Dutch graphic design, stretching back to the great 20th century masters (Theo van Doesburg, Piet Zwart, HN Werkman, Wim Crouwel, Anthon Beeke, Jan van Toorn, Gert Dumbar) there is a surefooted fusion of visual aesthetics and intellectual reflection."
Why We Design, published
by Lars Müller Publishers
With contributions by Aaron Betsky,
Adrian Shaughnessy and Gert Staal
The book has a special pre sale
during Dutch Design Week
20 - 28 October 2018
Veem | Floor 2
5617 BE Eindhoven
EMPOWER | Differences in culture, gender, talent or generation should not divide us. Instead, these differences are the main source of human potential. Design can empower people to realise their potential [page 271, Why We Design]
Weaving Stories: thonik's journey to connect east and west over brocade
Weaving Stories is a story within a story and one of thonik's latest international projects presented this month during Dutch Design Week (20 – 28 October 2018). Making brocade fabrics is feared to be a lost art in China. Once only fit for an emperor the brocade industry has all but vanished. Brocade has been declared a UNESCO heritage and the city of Nanjing is trying to save the knowledge by encouraging collaborations between western designers and the traditional industry of brocade making. Amsterdam design studio thonik decided to pair up with two of the last women with insider knowledge of the very complex art of making brocade.
Comprised of a short film, a piece of Yunjin brocade and a dress, Weaving Stories envisages the lives of the two Yunjin brocade weavers, Qiao-yun and Xiao-fang, untangling their journeys to become craftswomen in a disappearing heritage. The film is woven with different themes concerning their encounters with weaving as well as their life stories. While traditional craft is extremely hierarchical in China, thonik hopes to shed light upon the anonymous makers who dedicate their lives to the grand narrative of craft. The two women portrayed in this film negotiate life with grace and dignity.
Weaving Stories by thonik
in collaboration with Fang Ye (dress design)
Alice Wong and Alexandre Humbert (film)
Dutch Design Week
20 - 28 October 2018
Veem | Floor 2
5617 BE Eindhoven
EXPOSE | Our work is out there. It reveals our ideas and values. We make a big splash. [page 181, Why We Design]
NAKED an exhibition exploring nudity and nakedness at Museum Kranenburgh
With the exhibition NAKED – The Vulnerable Body, Museum Kranenburgh considers the changing meaning of the naked in the visual culture of the past decades: from shock to familiarity, from taboo to openness – and sometimes back again.
John Berger, the well-known British writer and artist said: "To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others "(Ways of Seeing, 1972). Thonik's Thomas Widdershoven uses Berger’s quote as this exhibition’s leitmotif, addressing the challenge of "finding a grey area where classifying in terms of good or bad, sexual or non-sexual, or shocking or not, becomes almost impossible."
By choosing this theme Thomas was forced to bare himself as well. "This exhibition was made against the backdrop of #metoo and a new wave of prudishness. I for one was very much aware of being a man and having feelings, desires and fears." NAKED has a very wide range of work by others and thonik itself. "Apparently nakedness is a theme in our work. We exhibit our campaign where we asked an incredible elderly lady to undress herself for a tv commercial to draw attention to the lowering standards in healthcare in nursing homes." But there is less literal nakedness as well. "I wanted to show Wim Crouwel's phonebook in lowercase which caused a riot in Holland, people feeling exposed because of it. And what would this exhibition be without the work from the late Anthon Beeke – who we lost just quite recently. There is no artist who has worked with nakedness and nudity more vigorously or fearless than Anthon. I'm sad he is no longer with us but grateful for all he has left behind."
NAKED curated by Thomas Widdershoven
assisted by Marie Stel
Hoflaan 26, 1861 CR Bergen, Netherlands
+31 (0)72-589 8927
NAKED - The Vulnerable Body
What is naked in contemporary times? With the exhibition NAKED – The Vulnerable Body, Museum Kranenburgh considers the changing meaning of the naked in the visual culture of the past decades: from shock to familiarity, from taboo to openness – and sometimes back again.
Jan Schoonhoven being painted by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama
Despite revealing our soul and bliss on Facebook and Instagram, naked nipples remain strictly taboo. Perfectly photographed bodies on television, in magazines, and online make us insecure, uncomfortable even, about our own bodies. Image-maker Thomas Widdershoven (thonik) is the guest curator of the exhibition NAKED, which takes a closer look at our body image through our relationship to being naked.
To be naked is to be oneself
John Berger, the well-known British writer and artist, perhaps put it most aptly when he said: “To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others "(Ways of Seeing, 1972). Widdershoven uses Berger’s quote as this exhibition’s leitmotif, addressing the challenge of “finding a grey area where classifying in terms of good or bad, sexual or non-sexual, or shocking or not, becomes almost impossible.”
The exhibition occupies the entirety of Museum Kranenburgh’s new wing and includes works by more than fifty contemporary artists and designers. Not all the works show nudity, but they all convey a contemporary confusion about the naked truth. The condition humaine – our individual inconveniences and vulnerability – are exposed in all their openness and honesty. Kranenburgh is also developing an extensive exhibition programme, especially for schoolchildren and students.
Atelier Van Lieshout | Anthon Beeke | Herbert Behrens | Caspar Berger | Eva Besnyö (HU/NL) | Alexandra Bircken (DE) | Melanie Bonajo | Yi-Fei Chen (TW) | Lois Cohen en Indiana Roma Voss | Matthew Day Jackson (USA) | Michèle Degen (CH) | Rineke Dijkstra | Hans Eijkelboom | Mandy den Elzen | Kim van Erven | Alicia Framis (ES) | Lucy Glendinning (GB) | Daan van Golden | Olivier van Herpt | Bora Hong (KR) | Fleur Hulleman | Ata Kandó (HU) | Billie van Katwijk | Laetitia Ky (CI) | Duran Lantink | George Maciunas (LT) | Thomas Mailaender (FR) | MAISON the FAUX | Reineke Otten | Nam June Paik (KR) | Antje Peters (DE) | Bas Princen | Deborah de Robertis (LU) | Maria Roosen | Fernando Sánchez Castillo (ES) | Sanne Sannes | Viviane Sassen | Wim T. Schippers | Jan Schoonhoven | Yinka Shonibare (GB) | Giulia Soldati (IT) | Elisabet Stienstra | Berend Strik | Julius Thissen | thonik | Oliviero Toscani (IT) | Ulay (DE) | Ari Versluis en Ellie Uyttenbroek | Roy Villevoye | Hongjie Yang (CN) | Mickaël Wiesengrün | John Berger (GB) | Wim Crouwel | Max Kisman | Richard Prince (PA) | Hans Wolf | Butt Magazine | easy. (CA) | Extra Extra Magazine | Fantastic Man Magazine | Glamcult | Permanent Food magazine: Maurizio Cattelan & Paola Manfrin (IT) | Tijdschrift Gandalf | Toiletpaper Magazine: Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari (IT) | Yoni Thomas Widdershoven
Thomas Widdershoven (1960), together with Nikki Gonnissen, has led the thonik design agency in Amsterdam for 25 years. Thonik has developed numerous advertising campaigns, identities, and house styles for Museum Kranenburgh, Centraal Museum Utrecht, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the VPRO, and the Holland Festival. Widdershoven was the Design Academy Eindhoven’s creative director and curated several exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum. He developed NAKED together with assistant curator Marie Stel and designer Tariq Heijboer.
thonik was founded in 1993 and specialises in visual communication, graphic identity, interaction, and motion design. To the studio it is important to create work that sets apart and differentiates, work that sparks discussions and initiates change – one design at a time. thonik has developed numerous advertising campaigns, visual identities, and moving graphics for Museum Kranenburgh, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the VPRO, the Holland Festival and the Power Station of Art in Shanghai.