finally had the time to do another blogpost on the Roots series. this one is about Ootje Oxenaar, famous for his — still very much cherished — banknote designs. the fact that the dutch love the old guilder banknotes has probably something to do with the bad image of the euro, but also with the beauty of those banknotes. i can remember them vividly.

i love the fact that he put little secrets in his banknote designs, only visible for people who knew about them or people with a remarkable eye for detail. if you want to know more about his designs, you should check out this movie-clip by Jack Spyker-Oles below.

or if you’re dutch and feeling a little nostalgic, check out this ode to the 250 guilder banknote design. non-dutchies can watch too of course!

anyway, back to the roots series. the book opens with an image of Oxenaar’s bookcase. many of his books got new covers over the years. Els Kuijpers, the author of the book, shows this image with the saying ‘show me your bookshelf, and i will tell you who you are’ in mind.

Kuijpers included the time period in which Oxenaar was head of the legendary Dienst Esthetische Vormgeving also known as DEV (aesthetics service) of PTT, the national postal company. the PTT and Oxenaar in particulair have contributed massively to the dutch graphic design culture. the image below shows works Oxenaar made during his time at PTT.

this image shows stamps designed by Oxenaar, mostly childrens stamps and stamps for the royal family. Kuijpers describes how Oxenaar plays many roles in his life and loves to change roles and identities. he played Sinterklaas (a sort of Santa Claus) for his children, a professor for his students and a ‘boring’ official for his collagues. just like the books in his bookcase he changes his own identity when he feels like it.

if you want to read more on Oxenaars work i recommend an interview with him on Creative Review. there will also be a new book out in june by 010 publishers, which i’m hoping to get my hands on. if i will, you’ll be the first to know.

you can order the book at [z]oo producties

book Ootje Oxenaar
author Els Kuijpers
design vanRixtelvanderPut ontwerpers
cover photo Aatjan Renders
publisher [z]oo producties
printer Greve offset
isbn 9789074009645 price €5 (comes only in a pack of three)
pages 16 pages, 168 x 240 mm
paper Arctic Volume White
binding method stapling
text dutch