Vinca Kruk (Leiden, 1980) and Daniel van der Velden (Rotterdam, 1971) combine graphic design with the critical examination of such topics as branding and political and corporate power structures. Having first collaborated in 2004 on a project at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, they have been the driving force behind the designer collective Metahaven since 2006. Its output includes a range of publications and articles, graphic identities, and films. It uses standard typefaces, shadow effects, bright colors, and (fantasy) logos that make reference to the visual language of politics and business. Metahaven often finds itself collaborating with unconventional partners that do not fit the design industry’s mold.
The collective took it upon itself to design a new graphic identity for WikiLeaks, the controversial journalistic platform. Metahaven was fascinated by how WikiLeaks’ online publication of confidential government and corporate documents exposed scandals and corruption, thereby undermining established authorities. Metahaven wanted the platform’s anonymous, independent, and elusive character to be captured by a recognizable trademark. When the two parties finally met, WikiLeaks turned out to be more interested in tangible merchandise than in a new visual identity. So Metahaven created a series of T-shirts and large silk scarves that are both concealing and see-through. The designs are a reference to the platform’s ambiguity—at once committed to transparency while sources, methods, and administrators remain shrouded in secrecy. Proceeds from the sale of these products, through venues such as eBay, helped WikiLeaks survive a financial embargo by major credit card companies.
Metahaven’s design practice is about much more than mere aesthetics. With work that is poetic as well as overwhelming and provocative, the collective provides the viewer with an instrument to probe—and defend—one’s own opinions, truths, and independent thoughts.
Metahaven is one of the 26 designers and studios that are selected for the group show Dream Out Loud – Designing for Tomorrow’s Demands. The exhibition can be visited from 26 August 2016 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Read more about the exhibition or order tickets.
Metahaven for Wikileaks
Metahaven, Transparent Camouflage (WikiLeaks merchandise,) 2010-2013
Mixed media installation. Photography Meinke Klein, structure design Metahaven with Miroslav Rajic