Mr Huveneers, I presume

Unless you have studied GPO posters with a rather unnatural intensity, you probably wouldn’t know the name of Peter (or possibly Pieter) Huveneers.  But it’s worth making his acquaintance.  He designed a whole series of delightful posters for the Post Office throughout most of the 1950s.

Huveneers vintage GPO poster post early

The BPMA have about 20 of his designs catalogued, including this gem.

Huveneers air mail GPO poster from BPMA

And he also worked for British Railways into the early 60s.

Huveneers Harwich Hook of Holland poster

Until 1963, when the last piece of design I can track down is a British Railways poster in the National Railway Museum collection.  And then he disappears.

Fast forward to 1968, when another designer called Pieter Huveneers sets up a design company in Australia.  Now, if you’re Australian and of a certain age, Pieter Huveneers is a big name.  He’s the down-under equivalent of Wim Crowel or Hans Schleger, a designer who shaped the fabric of everyday life.

Huveneers’ work is still written all over Australia.  He designed the logos and identities for two of Australia’s national institutions, Australia Post and Telecom Australia when they were created in 1975.

an australian stamp

telecom australia sign

(The Australia Post logo, with its neatly incorporated post-horn is still in use, although slightly rejigged in recent years.  Telecom Australia rebranded itself as Telstra in 1995).

He not only designed the logo but also created the name of the bank which emerged from Australia’s biggest ever bank merger in 1981, when the Commercial Bank of Australia and the Bank of New South Wales became something much more modern and international.

oz bank logo

And completely rebranded one of Australia’s iconic breweries, Tooth – this is his logo design from 1981.

tooth brewery logo

And that’s just what I’ve been able to find out about from the other side of the world, I’m sure there’s more as well.

The thing is, I have no way of proving that this is the same person.  The dates add up, and the Australian Pieter Huveneers was born in c1926, which gives him plenty of time to be designing GPO posters before emigrating to Australia, and the chances of there being two of them in the design world at the same time have to be pretty slim anyway.  But is it or not?  I can’t say for sure.

But I seem to have reached the limits of what I can find out without being either a) Australian or  b) within easy reach of the British Library.  So if there are any Australian design historians out there who are able to tell me a bit more about him and his design studio, I’d really love to hear from them.  As far as I can tell, he’s still alive too, so perhaps he might be able to answer the question of whether or not he designed those posters himself.  Hope so.

Modernism to go

Right now, you can pick up the bargain of the year so far on eBay.  It’s this:

Wim Crouwel vintage poster stedelijk museum

and this

wim crouwel vintage poster raysse museum

and also this

wim crouwel vintage poster 3 stedelijk museum

In fact it’s five posters designed by Wim Crouwel for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in the 1960s, and as I write, they are currently going for under £10 for the lot.  Which is madness.  They’d be a bargain just for five anonymous pieces of good design, but for five pieces of Wim Crouwel’s work, it’s a crime.

We simply don’t have designers like Crouwel here in the UK.  This isn’t only because we didn’t do this kind of formal, grid-based, type centred modernism.  (To get a sense of how mainstream it was in Holland, just imagine the British Museum or the V&A commissioning a poster like this in the 60s, and then go and have a lie down to clear the resulting headache.)

It’s also because, for some reason, very few designers in this country have achieved the ubiquity managed by Crouwel.

“It was actually quite difficult to avoid Wim Crouwel’s work. In the 1960s the Netherlands was inundated with posters, catalogues, stamps designed by him, even the telephone book.”
– Karel Martens

Who can match this?  Abram Games did design the Festival of Britain symbol, it’s true, but he hardly styled the entire 50s.  Perhaps Hans Schleger is the only one who can come close* – with his work for Libertys and MacFisheries (of which more later), the John Lewis logo and even the London Transport bus stop roundel to his name, it would have been easy to live, travel and shop in a Schleger-shaped world.  But did many people ever notice they were doing this? I rather doubt it.

Anyway, this is a bit of a distraction from the business in hand, which is that there are five brilliant pieces of design for sale for not very much money at all so far.  Proof that eBay can still come up with the goods sometimes.

*I am disregarding Pentagram as I find most of their designs a bit safe and dull.  Perhaps I was living a visual life shaped by Pentagram in the 1970s and 80s, but if I was I didn’t care much either way.  But if you think I am in need of correction on this – or you’ve got a better example – please do say.