We’re back with another edition of Design Legends, where we showcase the designers and agencies that have inspired — and continue to inspire — our work.

In this blog, our graphic designer Matt puts the spotlight on iconic design team Mevis & van Deursen. 


Based in Amsterdam, Dutch graphic designers Armand Mevis and Linda van Deursen have been working together under the name of “Mevis & van Deursen” since 1995. Their creative collaboration began following their graduation from Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 1986. 

With the closure of their studio earlier this year — with both deciding to focus on individual projects — it felt, to me, like the right time to feature this brilliant creative partnerships as part of our Design Legends series. 

Mevis & van Duersen have stayed committed to their design principles for over 3 decades — inspiring designers and redefining Dutch design in the process. As Design Museum states, they have played “a critical role in modernising Dutch graphic design and redefining it as a dynamic medium.”

Toying with the long-established aesthetic of Dutch design — and reworking it to reflect their ideas — Mevis & van Deursen are praised for their innovative but clear presentation. They have become known for their visual treatment, which balances text and ideas. They’re also a partnership who have embraced creation by way of restriction.

In a 2007 interview with Stripe SF, Armand Mevis is quoted as saying, “I think that restrictions are very important! When students work, it seems like they often have too many ideas at the same time, I would immediately tell them, limit yourself! Start where you need to start, and go from there to something else.”

Over the years, they have built an impressive portfolio — producing creative work for cultural clients including new visual identities for the Stedelijk Museum and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. They have collaborated with avant-garde luxury fashion house Viktor & Rolf and have played the leading role in the design of numerous publications and exhibition catalogues.

Gaining an international profile during the mid 90s — and being cover stars and guest editors of the coveted Japanese design magazine IDEA in 2005 — only increased their influence.

Another significant milestone in their partnership? Winning a competition for the graphic identity for the City of Rotterdam as a designated Cultural Capital of Europe in 2001.

Taking inspiration from the Head of Committee — who saw Rotterdam as being a place of many different parts — Mevis and van Deursen developed a toolbox of graphic shapes. These could be assembled in various configurations — connecting city institutions through creative design.

In preparation for writing this piece, I’ve discovered that it can be a challenge to see their much-admired oeuvre online — although their creative output has been prolific. For those who want to delve into the world of Mevis & van Deursen further, their self-edited design monograph Recollected Work: Mevis & van Deursen (Artimo: 2005) is a good place to start. While the book represents merely a fraction of their work, it’s been a staple in our library and at 18 years old, still plays a significant role in our creative thought processes today. 

The duo didn’t opt for a traditional format, but instead took a playful, collage approach to layout and presentation. The result is a reimagining of their work and new ways of engaging a reader — making them work a little harder through its style. “The idea,” they write, “is the most important thing.”

Another great reference is a 2009 presentation from the Walker Art Centre which explores more of their work and how they cultivate the ideas for their projects. You can watch it at the video below!

Discover more Design Legends

The end

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