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Wim Crouwel, a revolution in design

There’s been a lot of buzz around the design blogs lately about the Wim Crouwel exhibition that just opened at the Design Museum in London. “A Graphic Odyssey” spans over sixty years of the venerable designer’s career and includes his sketches, iconic posters and magazine covers. Known for his grid-based layouts, nowhere is his nickname “Gridnik” more obvious than in his innovative “New Alphabet.” Designed in 1967, the font is based on Cathode Ray Tube technology and contains only vertical and horizontal strokes. As such, it’s almost unreadable. Crouwel said as much himself, describing “New Alphabet” as “over-the-top and never meant to be used.”

While students may never use it for their term papers, its creative experimentation is a perfect example of why Crouwel has been a revolutionary force in design. Still, “New Alphabet” wasn’t completely unusable. In 1988 designer Brett Wickens featured it on the Joy Division album “Substance (below).”

A Graphic Odyssey” runs through July 3, 2011.