Karel Martens receives BNO Piet Zwart Award 2023
Unanimously, the jury has declared designer Karel Martens the winner of the BNO Piet Zwart Prize 2023. This because of his extraordinary contribution to the significance and prestige of the design profession.
The jury expresses great admiration for the excellent graphic design work of Karel Martens (1939). Content and form always fit together seamlessly in both free work and commissioned work. His long career as a typographer and designer includes all kinds of commissions: posters, books, lettering of buildings, but also stamps, coins and telephone cards. As he himself emphasizes, there is no hierarchy in types of work; a small business card is approached just as seriously as a complex publication. In 2019, he founded the design firm Martens and Martens, within which he currently works.
Typical of the timeless and high quality of his work is the architecture magazine OASE of which he has been the designer since 1990. This long-running series can be seen as an exhaustive investigation over time into the eloquence of the (architecture) magazine with a powerful communication that always stems from the theme of each issue.
Through his active involvement in art education, Karel Martens has been able to share his knowledge, experience and critical view of the profession with new generations of designers. For example, he has taught at ArtEZ Academy of Fine Arts Arnhem, the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, Design Academy Eindhoven and Yale School of Art in New Haven, United States. Of particular note is the postgraduate course Werkplaats Typografie (WT), which he co-founded with Wigger Bierma.
The continuing urgency for the current generation of graphic designers and the international significance of both his work and Karel Martens’ design attitude are an important reason for the award of the BNO Piet Zwart Prize 2023. Karel Martens was previously awarded the H.N. Werkman Prize, the Gerrit Noordzij Prize and the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize, among others.
About the BNO Piet Zwart Prize
The BNO Piet Zwart Prize is an honorable award for a designer who is of great significance to the profession and an example for new generations of designers. All recognized design disciplines that are important for the prestige and development of the design profession are eligible.
Karel Martens will receive the award on Sept. 21 at the Muziekgebouw Eindhoven during the festive presentation of the Dutch Design Awards 2023. His work will be included in the Dutch Design Awards exhibition that can be visited during Dutch Design Week.
The Professional Organization of Dutch Designers (BNO) awards the prize once every two years. Between 1983 and 2021, the prize has been awarded successively to: Friso Kramer, Jan van Toorn, Wim Crouwel, Eva Besnyö, Nel Verschuuren, Jan Bons, Bruno Ninaber van Eyben, Gert Dumbar, Willem Diepraam, Marijke van der Wijst, Gerard Unger, Ulf Moritz, Paul Mijksenaar, design studio LUST, Frans Bevers and Hella Jongerius.
The jury of the BNO Piet Zwart Prize 2023 consists of Timo de Rijk (jury chairman), Pieke Bergmans, Gert Franke, Joost Grootens, Ed van Hinte and Shahar Livne. Diana Janssen (director BNO) is secretary.