Chronicling the history of ‘Royal Dutch’ is – like the company itself – an operation involving nothing but Large Numbers. Size: approximately 1,750 pages. Print run: 75,000. Weight per set: almost 10 kilos. Distribution: 80 countries.
The panel were impressed by the scale of this project (‘all things considering, it’s almost megalomaniacal’),which was realized wholly in the Netherlands. Its technical and aesthetic aspects were admired (‘beautiful and monumental’), but there were also some more critical noises (‘it’s all so nice and well-behaved, whereas the material’s so tremendous’). A certain amount of ‘niceness’ is perhaps inevitable, given the gigantic print run (‘a case of Music For The Millions’).
Be that as it may: the dominant Shell colours red and yellow help to create a cheerful, fresh feeling. The two-column layout is spacious and open, and has been designed entirely to facilitate the greatest possible variety in the way the work’s deluge of pictorial matter is displayed. The graphics are attractive. Quotations in the running text are highlighted by being printed in grey. It is all highly accessible, too. Designer Marise Knegtmans provides the reader with an original and effective navigational tool by furnishing the back endpapers with a fold-out flap listing the chapter titles.
One or two panel members wondered if the text type (Argo) was the right choice for a work in which, after all, there was quite a lot to read. Sadly the way three DVDs of film material have been tidied away at the back of the appendix volume detracts slightly from the otherwise high standard of design and execution.