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In 2021 Dr. Alice Twemlow was appointed as the endowed professor/Wim Crouwel Chair in the History, Theory and Sociology of Graphic Design and Visual Culture in the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam.

This new position, the ‘Wim Crouwel Chair’, was established by the Wim Crouwel Institute (WCI), a foundation dedicated to making the rich heritage of Dutch graphic design widely accessible for research and education. Dr. Twemlow continues her role at the University of the Arts in The Hague (KABK).

Dr. Alice Twemlow is internationally recognized for her work as a scholar, educator and critic and her active engagement in many aspects of contemporary design culture. Her historical research has focused on design criticism, waste, and consumption of graphic design. She also investigates the relationship between design and time, experimental publishing, critical and speculative design and the nature of design and artistic research and methodologies.

She is currently Research Professor (Lector) at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague, where she heads the ‘Design and the Deep Future’ research project. Previously, she was head of the Master Design Curating & Writing at the Design Academy Eindhoven. And prior to that, she founded an MA in Design Research, Writing & Criticism at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Portrait by Kirsten van Santen

The Wim Crouwel Chair is part of the Book Studies group at the Faculty of Humanities (UvA). There Twemlow contributes to the educational offering with lectures and seminars on the history, theory and sociology of graphic design and visual culture, available to all master students. She also supervises students in Book Studies who opt to specialize in graphic design and follow this track through to graduation. In addition, Twemlow supervises PhD candidates, conducts and disseminates her own research related to the graphic design collections, and represents the professorship in international research networks.

Twemlow teaches the class 'Re-reading the Graphic Design Archive, Re-framing the Graphic Design Collection' at the University of Amsterdam, which will start again in 2024. Research from this class will be published on this page shortly. Want to know more? Get in touch.

The endowed chair is of great importance to the Wim Crouwel Institute, because, to date, in the Netherlands, the history, theory and sociology of graphic design and visual culture have been insufficiently represented as subjects of scientific inquiry at the university level. Following in the footsteps of its namesake the pioneering Dutch designer Wim Crouwel, the Wim Crouwel Institute wants to encourage rigorous academic research into graphic design and thereby to enhance the visibility and relevance of this discipline in the Netherlands and internationally.

The chair was created in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities and Allard Pierson of the University of Amsterdam and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The graphic design collections of both institutions will be frequently used for educational and research purposes within the framework of this chair.

The endowed chair has been made possible by financial contributions from the General Social Fund for the Graphic Industry and the Pictoright Fund. The Association of Dutch Designers (BNO) wholeheartedly supports the chair.

Disquieting Histories: Notes on Silence in the Graphic Design Archive

Inaugural Lecture by Prof. Dr. Alice Twemlow, Professor by Special Appointment of History, Theory and Sociology of Graphic Design and Visual Culture at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam.

Read the full inaugural lecture here or have a look at the recorded livestream.

The inaugural lecture was part of the base-camp-preparation for a research project which seeks better understanding of the role of design history in negotiating the relationship between graphic design as heritage and graphic design as contemporary professional practice. It leans on perspectives and dispositions derived from decolonial aesthesis and intersectional feminism being used to question and disrupt representational biases and imbalances in cultural heritage preservation, generally, and explores how such theories and tactics might also support renewed attention to the graphic design archive, specifically.

With reference to Saidiya Hartman’s notion of critical fabulation and Rolando Vázquez’s advocacy for practices of listening and relationality, the project wants to posit a range of ways in which the design historian, as the intended consumer of an archive, might critically intervene in its mechanisms of collection and description, and thereby participate in the collective effort to unsettle some of the normative assumptions that have accreted around the archive.

Working with students, PhD candidates and colleagues at UvA, Professor Twemlow hopes that more just and inclusive pathways can be walked between the past, present and future of graphic design practice and its cultural historical interpretations.

After the lecture and reception the discussion continued in the 2022 edition of the Wim Crouwel Institute’s ‘It’s All Graphic’, held at Pakhuis de Zwijger, and devoted to an exploration of the role of graphic design in problematizing the archive.