Sketch Cahier

As Hansje van Halem wows us with her third publication, we catch up with the Dutch designer to discover what role these self-reflective and technically advanced triumphs of design and print play in her creative process.

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Pages from Hansje van Halem, Publication III

This is the third you book you have made about your work – why is the process of showcasing your work in a book form enjoyable or important to you?
My first publication was a 448-page A4 hardcover book. At the time, I was often commissioned to design publications. A book to felt like natural way to to catalogue, fixate and save a mess of digital diamonds-in-the-rough from a computer crash. The joy I realised later, is that it also became a catalogue to retrieve design starting points. When on a tight deadline, I could start some levels higher by picking up and unfinished sketch and start designing from there.

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Pages from Hansje van Halem, Publication III

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Pages from Hansje van Halem, Publication III

Please tell us about the collaboration with your printer on this project…
For the past eight years I have been occasionally designing endpapers for books by printer / publisher Uitgeverij De Buitenkant. Sometimes for my own book designs, sometimes for books by others. When some of the endpaper patterns were reprinted, the printer started picking his own colours. Each time I was happily surprised by the reinterpretation of my pattern.

Over the years the printer saved up the print plates. We lightly discussed making a third publication with patterns reusing the print plates we had saved up over the years. One morning he called me: “You have to come over, my hands are itching. I want to start printing.” We selected suitable patterns, discussed he could pick the colours, use left-over paper. I started to design the publication after the offset pages were printed.

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Poster by Hansje van Halem

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Poster by Hansje van Halem

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Poster by Hansje van Halem

As well as print, you have designed for a range of materials and contexts, including tiles for a church floor and a fence at Schiphol Airport. What would you like to try next?
I thoroughly enjoy the scale of architectural projects in public space. I love playing with texture, detailing, distance and visibility. I love the fact that you can change a hard, solid material into looking fluid or open like a fabric. I sincerely hope I will get the chance to design for more projects in public space: walls, floors, exterior, interior in perforation, laser cut, tiles, wall papers, textile, etc

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SmartGate at Schipol Airport, designed by Hansje van Halem

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SmartGate at Schipol Airport, designed by Hansje van Halem

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Hansje van Halem publications; including new Publication III, left

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Hansje van Halem: in patterns exhibition at Bijzondere Collections UvA