• mundaneum, paul otlet,

From ancient maps to big data

Mapping Knowledge|Exhibition design

After a complete renovation the Mundaneum in Mons kicked off with the exhibition 'Mapping Knowledge, Understanding the world through data'. We designed labels, wall texts and a general visual to guide visitors through this exciting story. The biggest challenge was to design ‘a timeline of knowledge’ to empower the idea that the amount of information we generate and archive is exponentially increasing. The timeline highlights the most important knowledge breakthroughs and technological inventions which led to other important insights. The notable length of the timeline –twelve  meters!– was aligned with the original wooden drawers containing the more than twelve millions ‘index cards’ that lie at the heart of the Mundaneum, a global information centre set up by Paul Otlet and Henri Lafontaine in 1910.

We Love Type

  • Detail Cover Dies Irae


Generositeit|Book design

In October 2011 Marc Verminck, philosopher at LUCA School of Arts in Brussels, asked Johan to join him in an ambitious project: the editing and visual presentation of essays and artworks of 17 different contributors – most of them philosophers, writers or artists – in one book. A book about generosity, in all its forms, meanings and complexity. In words and images. The book would be designed by eleven graphic design students, supervised and co-designed by Johan. 
To assure visual coherence, a set of commonly used design attributes such as page format, grid, typesetting, look and feel…  that at the same time allows for the visually expression of the particularity of the individual contributions was designed by the collective.
Out of the students’ cover design proposals, Tim Caenepeel’s idea was selected and Johan (re)worked and fine-tuned it. The diagonal structure metaphorically represents the diffuse act of giving and taking, but also reflects – in color codes for the authors and quantity of frames expressing the number of pages of each contribution. The proposals that ‘didn’t make it’ were nevertheless included in the endpages of the book, one of  Marc’s generous ideas, honouring the effort more than the result.
It took a year and a half and a lot of effort to produce this book. In April 2013, during his speech at the book-presentation, Marc announced it to be his last book. Unfortunately this turned out to be true. A year and a half later, on December 10th, 2014, Marc passed away. 


Contributors: Barbara Verstraete, Herman De Dijn, Mathieu V. Staelens, Stefan Hertmans, Marc De Kesel, Geert Goiris & Ortwin de Graef, Willem Elias, Peter Jacquemyn, Berlinde De Bruyckere & Caroline Lamarche, Fons Van Coillie, Hubert Dethier, Wis Jacobs, Marc Verminck, Rinus Van de Velde, Mark Kint, Ger Groot, Philippe Van Parijs, Johan Leman, Antoon Vandevelde, Thierry De Cordier, Sammy Ben Yakoub & Edith Doove, Layla Aerts & Katrien Vanderbiest and Martha Verschaffel  
Participating design students: Zita Bonafede, Tim Caenepeel, Celine Callens, Karen Indesteege, Iwona Pomianowska, Thomas Schoofs, Ian Six, Lore Snauwaert, Griet Van Den Bosch, Emelie Vandewalle, Pieterjan Volkaert and Lisa Welvaerts.