The VPRO is one of the Netherlands’ many broadcasters (the initials VPRO originally stood for Vrijzinnig Protestantse Radio Omroep, though today little remains of the Protestant element; vrijzinnig means liberal or progressive). This book – a homage to the organization’s radio and television listings magazine (its gids or guide) – does not immediately strike one as either particularly special or especially beautiful. Its subject, however, is both, for the magazine has long been a vehicle for extraordinary design and it has made history.
Since the seventies its freethinking design, particularly in the work of such designers as Jaap Drupsteen and Piet Schreuders, has gone hand in hand with pioneering television programmes. As a programme commissioner and hotbed of talent the VPRO has made a large and sometimes controversial contribution to cultural life in the Netherlands.
This book gives us a select and ordered inventory of the magazine’s covers, one of its great virtues being that it presents them in an easy-to-follow chronology. It is also the result of thorough research into the magazine’s design from its inception to the present, complete with much anecdotal material on its famous and less famous designers.
The covers themselves come out beautifully because there is no competition between the design of the book and its subject.