Thursday, April 26, 2018

Rene Knip's typeface virtuosity

Rene Knip's letters are architectural, built and constructed rather than drawn or written. And the architectonic nature lends itself very readily to use in real architecture: in buildings, on walls, as floor tiles, etc. The relationship between the letters and their surroundings isn't clearcut; it's as though the letters themselves were part of the built environment. Sometimes they are. Knip takes inspiration from various existing letterforms left over from the 1920s and '30s, especially those that he has found in the streets of Amsterdam. Others have mined this same vein; the squared-off echoes of Art Nouveau, De Stijl, and Art Moderne remind me of the lettering of cartoonist Joost Swarte, and some of the constructed shapes are reminiscent of alphabets done by Max Kisman. Knip's genius is in melding the letterforms and their immediate environment, making each a part of the other.Knip studied with the renowned Dutch letterer and type-designer Chris Brand, at the St. Joost Academy of Art and later in private lessons at Brand's home. Although Brand's letters were always quite traditional in their form, he encouraged Knip's very different style and taught him to pay attention to the "white of the letter": the space inside (the counter). 

1- the world is graphic,
2- brutal physicality,
3- typeface is environment,
4- interiors are exteriors too.