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False Flat
Weighing in at 3.2 pounds, False Flat showcases a varied collection of Dutch design. Its authors present the evolution of the Netherland’s art, architecture, design, and aesthetic. I thought I knew the Dutch: Archis Magazine, Droog Design, Experimental Jetset, Rem Koolhaas, Karel Martens, Piet Mondrian, Gerrit Rietveld, Johannes Vermeer, and Piet Zwart. Sound familiar? These names merely scratch the surface.

And it’s not just the people that make up Dutch design. So much contributes to its look and feel. Being surrounded by water. Surviving World Wars. Absorbing the German methods and practices. The Dutch have endured a lot, and today may be considered radical by some. The Netherlands is a country that permits the use of soft drugs, and recognizes graphic design as a means of expression—surely, a different culture. One that has produced a prolific array of design in the past two decades.

Authors Aaron Betsky and Adam Eeuwens succeed in delivering rich visuals through historical, anecdotal, and cultural accounts. As evidenced by the chapter titles, a degree of whimsy exists in the Dutch spirit: Happy Chaos, Do Normal, or Vroom-Vroom in the Boom-Boom Years. But don’t let that fool you. Awestruck by the beautiful landscape of Amsterdam, the complexities of Utrecht, and the sculptural towers conceived by Koolhaas, I enjoyed reading about how, why, and what brought these things into fruition. (Or in some cases, will bring.) Betsky and Eeuwens know design, and they did ample research that is at one time observant, and at others critical.

Dutch graphic designer Irma Boom brings it all together. The book’s Neoplastic design relies on the grid, with body text opposing images, and captions gingerly positioned. Floods of color separate each new chapter, and color-tabbed pages help you flip back and forth between sections.

False Flat is a hefty title. The writing is approachable, free of academic and thick jargon that would tire the already large read. Its 1,000 color illustrations will keep you flipping, and the text in between will reward you equally.

Book Information
False Flat: Why Dutch Design is So Good
by Aaron Betsky with Adam Eeuwens and design by Irma Boom
400 pages
September 2004
9.6 x 7.0 x 2.0 inches
Publisher: Phaidon
ISBN: 0714840696
Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Dec.05.2004 BY Jason A. Tselentis
Derrick Schultz’s comment is:

I'm really happy with this book. I was a bit concerned because there was so much hype (at least on the internet) about it, and I was afraid it wouldn't live up to it. Not the case at all.

As an aside for the "designer degrees of seperation" game, Adam Eeuwens, one of the co-authors, is not only a great designer and writer in his own right, he is also married to designer Rebeca Mendez, who also helped in the design of the book.

On Dec.06.2004 at 10:38 AM