New Alphabet & Vormgevers Type Study

Wim Crouwel’s New Alphabet & Vormgevers

InDesign February 2012

Type study of Wim Crouwel’s New Alphabet & Vormgevers.

See it in use: Exception_ type study book based on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Wim Crouwel
Groningen, Netherlands ( 1928 – )

Willem Hendrik Crouwel is a Dutch graphic designer and typographer. His work includes identity and design for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, design for his design practice Total Design, and other exhibition pieces. Among his most prominent works are the typeface New Alphabet and hand lettering for a Vormgevers exhibition poster at the Stedelijk Museum. He is known for a strong use of a grid system for his designs.


The emerging computer and space age—1960s

During the rise of the computerized era and space travel, Wim Crouwel was Influenced by the digital developments of the time. Digital techniques emerged in the late 1960s, structuring by means of digital systems. He thought the same would happen to design, that designers would create the systems within which things take shape. This is what he called “design preparation”, that with this structure in place is not yet design, but it is within where the design will take place. Other people will use it to make the end product.

Adapted from Submarine Channel Dutch Profile: Wim Crouwel interview, published June 15, 2011


New Alphabet

New Alphabet is Wim Crouwel’s best-known type design. It was created in response to a digital print exhibition in Germany. The new process of recreating type had technical limitations due to the cathode-ray tube system, and thus the letterforms of New Alphabet are composed only of straight lines, 45 degree, and 90 degree angles. The typeface is as wide as it is tall, to create a vertical lining impression. New Alphabet was made as a theory in designing within the limitations of the digital phototypesetting equipment rather than creating poor reproductions of existing typefaces digitally—it is often indecipherable and thus it was never meant to be used as a typeface.




Vormgevers is a hand lettered exhibition poster made for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In this poster he made visible the same hand drawn grid he used to compose the museum catalogue all of the museum’s exhibit posters. In this composition Wim wanted the text to melt together. Thus, the message is in the letterforms rather than in the copy.