Philippe Apeloig - Using Type

31 October 2015 – 31 January 2016 

Amsterdam, 14 September 2015 – As of 31st of October, the Stedelijk Museum presents work by French graphic designer Philippe Apeloig (Paris, 1962), who is noted for his thorough and experimental use of typography. The presentation in the design circuit features Apeloig’s posters, logos, books, folders and animations.

Philippe Apeloig engages in a witty interaction with letters, in some instances designing his own typefaces. His mastery of typography is such that he is able to play a subtle and well-chosen game with characters and fonts. In some designs, he allows letters to function as autonomous images. This can be seen in the poster Bateaux sur l’eau of 2003, where the letters form a boat and yet, even when slightly distorted, always convey their message clearly. The letter shapes in the poster Bewegte Schrift of 2011 were also featured in a digital animation screened at Zürich station. Apeloig’s designs are layered with meaning, which is always in tune with the subject of the poster. His resulting designs are rich and varied; some are colorful, others in black and white, with occasional touches of color.

Carolien Glazenburg, curator of graphic design at the Stedelijk: “Apeloig composes with letters, infusing them with different characteristics; some stand alone, others gather in dynamic groups, some dance exuberantly and, on occasion, serve as a sculpture. They can proclaim their message loudly, or in a more restrained tone. Previous presentations in the heart of the design circuit featured LUST, together with Jurriaan Schrofer; Lex Reitsma, and Atelier ter Bekke&Behage. Four years ago, we mounted a major survey of Wim Crouwel. Now, it is the turn of Philippe Apeloig – it’s time for the Netherlands to see more of his work, not least because of his ties with Dutch graphic design.”

At the École supérieure des arts appliqués Duperré in Paris, Philippe Apeloig learned the principles of typography. He completed two internships at the Amsterdam graphic design bureau Total Design, co-founded by Wim Crouwel. Total Design’s prevailing Dutch modernist climate would have an enduring impact on the work of Apeloig. The designer even goes as far as to say “Amsterdam is my artistic birthplace”. In the late 1980s, Apeloig receives a study grant, and travels to the US, where he works for April Greiman, a renowned graphic designer who was trained by the Swiss designer Wolfgang Weingart. Greiman was one of the first designers to embrace the recently introduced Apple Macintosh, and used innovative typography and bright colors in her poster designs.

In the 1980s, the introduction of the computer compelled graphic designers to redefine their discipline. The computer is rapid and flexible, invites experimentation and circumvents the constraints of manual work. Total Design, Greiman, and indirectly Weingart, helped Apeloig to utilize typography inventively, in synchrony with digital designing. Besides classic graphic design, Apeloig also creates digital animations for both cultural and commercial clients. Here, typography also plays a central role. He has many clients in the cultural sector and designs posters and graphic identities for theatres, exhibitions and festivals. Since 1981, Apeloig has designed every poster for the important annual Fête du Livre in Aix-en-Provence. In addition to which, he also works for commercial enterprises such as Hermès.

The publication accompanying the exhibition is available in the museum shop: Philippe Apeloig – The Substance of Letters / À la racine des lettres, which supplements the book TYPORAMA which was published on the occasion of the large-scale retrospective of his work at the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, in 2014. 

The shawl that Philippe Apeloig designed for the French fashion house Hermès, based on the book by Roland Barthes A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, is on show in the exhibition and available at Hermès (€ 895).