Piet Zwart – advertising for NKF

Piet Zwart started to work for NKF (Dutch Cable Manufacturers) in 1923, and the works of graphic design he created there are his best-known designs. This catalog Zwarts designed for NKF was printed in full color and was 80 pages long. In this work, we can notice Zwart’s use of primary colors, clean sans-serif typography, and photomontage. Zwart was self-taught in typography, even though this is not his work, yet he realized he just knew a little about printing technology while worked on this project. This work is characterized by the use of primary shapes and colors to create strong contrasts. However, color was included not as a decorative element, but more as a graphic cue. He played with upper and lower case letters, circles and formed his own unique new style. Although Zwart’s works of graphic design are playful and interesting, readability still remains foremost. Zwart sees readability as a matter of ideology,  therefore he began pursuing “functional” typography. Its purpose was “to establish the typographic look of our time, free, in so far as it is possible, from tradition; to activate typographic forms; to define the shape of new typographic problems, methods, techniques and discard the guild mentality.”. In this project, we can see Zwart’s excellent use of color, typography, composition, and photography. Comparing with his earlier work, he uses more diagonals rather than only horizontal and vertical elements which is inspired by Constructivism.