Total Design

Total Design, multidisciplinary design agency, established in 1963 by the designers Wim Crouwel, Friso Kramer, Benno Wissing, and the Schwarz brothers from the commercial sector. Influenced by international developments and the emergence of a European market, they believed that designing should be a matter of teamwork, and large assignments should be approached following an efficient and rational design methodology and division of labour. TD was set up as a business organisation for the purpose of large and complex assignments. Ben Bos was among the first employees and later on became a member of management.
The designers worked in teams and the agency was very influential. The industrial design did not get off the ground and after Kramer left in 1968 TD focused on graphic design and house styles with the designs following a basic grid or pattern. Some of the clients were: PAM, SHV, Randstad, De Bijenkorf, De Gruyter, PTT, Auping, De Doelen and several museums. TD was also responsible for the Dutch contribution to the World Expo in Osaka in 1970.
The agency suffered from fluctuations in sales and the number of employees, and internally there were discussions about the organisational structure and the work itself. Paul and Dick Schwarz and Benno Wissing left in 1972, and Jurriaan Schrofer and Anthon Beeke then joined the agency. Wim Crouwel, the centre and personification of TD, became increasingly criticised for the TD style. He left during the 1980s and Jelle van der Toorn Vrijthoff succeeded him as the director. Ben Bos left in 1991.
In an article in Items (1987), Rudie Kagie summarised the problems: the limited opportunities to move within the company, the official and commercialised atmosphere and the rigidity that has led to a predictable, risk-free design approach. Van der Toorn Vrijthoff invested in computers and continued the agency under the name of Total Identity.