studio Joost Grootens wins the Rotterdam Design Prize 2009

Joost Grootens received the prize from Alice Rawsthorn, photo Fred Ernst
Joost Grootens received the prize from Alice Rawsthorn, photo Fred Ernst

29 November 2009

The Rotterdam Design Prize 2009 has been awarded to studio Joost Grootens. At 5.00 p.m. this afternoon Joost Grootens received the prize from Alice Rawsthorn, member of the panel of judges. An independent international panel of judges unanimously selected studio Joost Grootens. The winner receives a cash prize of €15,000 to spend as they wish. The public prize 2009 was won by Gorilla.

Studio Joost Grootens won the Rotterdam Design Prize with a set of Atlases. The set is made up of four atlases in which Grootens combines text, cartography, photography and infography in a highly innovative manner. Gorilla won the 2009 public prize with the visual column for the de Volkskrant. This year the public were able to vote online, and after a close-run race the most votes went to this nominee. For two and a half years from 2006 this design collective comprising five members provided a visual column on the front page of the daily newspaper de Volkskrant.

Judges’ verdict
The international panel of judges unanimously described Grootens’s work as of the moment and world class. They liked his attitude: ‘Grootens places great importance on the clarity of the information. His design is clearly intended to serve the reader. Design for Grootens is not an egotistic activity nor is it the promotion of a particular vision. The result is both brilliant and functional.’

The panel of judges explained the social relevance of Grootens’s works as follows: Grootens’ atlases make clear the relationship between geography and politics. For example, atlases legitimate an empire’s ambitions or claims. Every atlas takes up a position in relation to a world in flux. We live in a period of economic crisis, a period of worldwide turmoil, a period that calls for new choices. Grootens’ atlas designs help us to understand and assess certain aspects of these changes at a variety of scales.’

Four Atlases (2003-2008)
Ideas about presenting information in other media like the Internet inspired the extensive visual indexes and navigation systems in Grootens’s book designs. ‘The book is not a linear medium. It is a carrier of information with several possible access points,’ says Grootens. The reader can access the information at different levels and use it for further research.

The prize-winning entries and those of all the other nominees are on show in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen until 10 January 2010.

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