The legendary Rotterdam designers collective Hard Werken (1979–1994: Henk Elenga, Kees de Gruiter, Gerard Hadders, Tom van den Haspel, Willem Kars and Rick Vermeulen) have taken their inspiration from punk and the counterculture of the eighties to come up with an eclectic postmodern style that combines collage and photography with typographical anarchy (and a great deal of nudity). Hard Werken was wild, brutal and contrary. The same can be said of the book about the collective: Hard Werken. One for All.
The book’s designers, 75B – Rotterdam again – write: ‘We wanted a book with a brash and somewhat ragged, punky look.’ With four sorts of paper, some thirty different typefaces and a variety of grid forms, they’ve had no difficulty in succeeding on that score. The book is a nice example of how two different characters (Hard Werken and 75B) with related ‘attitude’ produced an exciting synergy. The idea could easily have led to forced, unnatural stylistic limitations and misplaced retro, but it all feels natural, honest and of the time. And there is method in the madness: the open spine has been sealed with black boat sealant: in other words it’s strong and falls open nicely – functional and yet entirely the Hard Werken style. Stuck onto this there’s a label with the title and so on, yet another nice reference to the group’s idiom – large numbers of posters and flyers. At the front the cover board has been folded with the coated side on the outside, conversely with the uncoated side at the back, creating a tactile indication of front and back. Inside, each title is set in its own typeface and the paper stock changes with every section of sixteen pages. According to how 75B see it, these choices reflect the fact that Hard Werken was first and foremost a bunch of individuals. Thirty-year-old photography and print have been faithfully lithographed without polishing them up too much. This, combined with the clear print, helps to make the book absolutely 2018, absolutely 75B, and absolutely Hard Work.