Closely following the ‘look and feel’ of its journal Ons Erfdeel, the Flemish-Netherlands cultural institution of the same name has now brought out this book on a subject close to its heart. Without nostalgia, historians from north and south of the Dutch-Belgian border examine the short-lived experiment of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815-39). Was ‘orangism’ a historical mistake, a wrong turning, or a comedy of errors? It turns out that it was first and foremost a product of the Congress of Vienna.
The typographic cover testifies to an original approach to lettering: the trick with the word (words?) ‘(on)verenigd’ (a specimen of the common Dutch use of parentheses to express two mutually exclusive meanings without having to spell them out) succeeds nicely, especially with the contrast between the densely matt black and the overprinted deep letterpress of the red ‘(on)’ on the front cover, repeated on the spine and back cover. Designer Koen Bruyñeel’s main concern was to achieve great ‘carefulness’ in all the details, and it caused quite a buzz during the panel’s discussions. Priority has been given here to functional legibility, and why should anyone complain about that? The paper too met with a warm reception: creamy Lessebo Design Smooth Ivory in 130gsm, coupled with the more roughly textured cover in Basix Vilt Grain Feutre 250gsm – robust and warm. The whole thing quietly adds up to a stylish book in which the photographs by Michiel Hendryckx are also well placed.