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A visual debate between two design icons

About This Project

In 1972, influential Dutch graphic designers Wim Crouwel and Jan Van Toorn met for a debate on the merits of objective (Crouwel) versus subjective (Van Toorn) design. Should designers remain as impartial from the content as possible, or do they automatically take on a social responsibility when presenting messages to an impressionable public?


Ob/Sub is a publication using excerpts from the iconic debate as visual conversation. Crouwel’s words are grid aligned, neat and rational, while Van Toorn’s are unplanned, rebellious and spirited. Seen alongside examples from design icons such as Michael Beirut, Massimo Vignelli and Jan Tschichold, both sides of the coin still hold weight for designers of all disciplines today.