Jan van Toorn
Jan van Toorn [Tiel, The Netherlands, 1932-Amsterdam, 2020] studied graphic design at the Amsterdam School of Printing [1948-1949] and the Institute of Arts and Crafts in Amsterdam [1950-1953]. He has been a freelance designer in visual communication since 1957. He lives and works in Amsterdam.
The emotional charge of van Toorn’s designs stems from his interest in investigating visual meaning and the social role of the profession as opposed to purely practical requirements. His radical teaching and practice were highly influential on the younger generation of Dutch designers. He taught graphic design and visual communication for many years at various academies and universities in The Netherlands and abroad, including Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam [1968-1985] and the Department of Architecture at Technical University Eindhoven [1982-1983]. He was the head of the Multi-media department of the Royal Academy of Arts, Amsterdam [1987-1989].
From 1991 until 1998 he was director of the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, transforming it into an international postgraduate centre for fine art, design and theory. In this context he organized Design beyond design, critical reflection and the practice of visual communication, a conference devoted to the discrepancy between the socio-cultural and symbolic reality of the information-economy in 1997.
He was associate professor in the MA programme of graphic design, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, USA [1989-2008]. Van Toorn is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) since 1972.