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September 21, 2023

Karel Martens, graphic designer and co-founder of Werkplaats Typografie, wins the BNO Piet Zwart Award

The BNO Piet Zwart Award, an important lifetime achievement award for Dutch designers, goes to graphic designer Karel Martens this year, co-founder of the ArtEZ master's course Werkplaats Typografie and former teacher at the ArtEZ Academy for Art & Design in Arnhem. Over his more than 60-year career, he was fond of pushing the boundaries of his field.

Karel Martens graduated from the Academy for Art and Design in 1961. After his graduation, he continued to teach at the academy for many years. In 1998, he founded the master's course Werkplaats Typografie. The Werkplaats Typografie is a two-year experimental master's course in graphic design located in its own building: a former radio distribution station in Arnhem, built in 1937. The program serves as a research environment in which participants define the content, objectives, and conditions of their own international and independent design practice while developing their artistic, visual, and practical skills.

The jury greatly admires Karel Martens' (1939) excellent graphic design work. Content and form seamlessly align in both free work and commissioned work. His long career as a typographer and designer encompasses various types of assignments: posters, books, building lettering, but also stamps, coins, and phone cards. As he emphasizes, there is no hierarchy in types of work; a small business card is approached with the same seriousness as a complex publication.

Read the full jury report here (in Dutch)

Werkplaats Typografie

Interested in the Werkplaats Typografie? Visit their website. Here, you will find not only information about the program but also the work and research of (former) participants in the master's program.

Vedische Mathematica, door Karel Martens