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Warren Lee HonFISTD

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A well-deserved ISTD Honorary Fellowship for Warren Lee. It is clear how highly respected Warren is within the graphic design industry. Warren's achievement in bookselling circles was recognised with an award in 2014, the KBb Golden Book Pin to recognise his 40 years attainment (having already received the Silver Pin at the 20 year mark). The reputation of the Nijhof & Lee shop has been extolled in numerous articles by leading design journals all over the world.

Ben Bos featured Warren Lee in one of the famous ‘Roots’ publications that pay homage to the roots of Dutch graphic design. Amongst others published in the series are Wim Crouwel, Ootje Oxenaar, Baer Cornet, Anthon Beeke, Ben Bos and Hans Bockting.

ISTD worked with Ben Bos HonFISTD to create and produce an English translation of the Roots publication (Ben’s original text of course being in Dutch). The English version was designed by ISTD Fellow Clare Playne to compliment and accompany the original. Copies of the Roots publication together with our ‘Warren Lee Translated’ version, have been sent out to ISTD members.

On graciously accepting Honorary Fellowship of ISTD – Warren says, ‘Nijhof & Lee was just that – Frank Nijhof & Warren Lee. What we created and did was done together, a team. I could never have done it alone nor do I think Frank could have either, even though he was far more capable then me. I have fond, beautiful memories of the 22 years that went into the creation of Nijhof & Lee. The honour that you, the ISTD now propose, I accept in the name of both of us.

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Frank Nijhof in the shop

Warren and Frank started Nijhoff & Lee in 1988 and over the years it attracted the patronage of many graphic design celebrities.

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The bookstore in the Staalstraat, Amsterdam became a success through their own expertise, their knowledgeable staff, their informative mailings and a well functioning website; and of course, the extraordinary collection of books, posters and graphic design ephemera.

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Frank and Warren took their books to numerous typography-related congresses and conferences. They organised events themselves (such as the Wim Crouwel exhibition ‘80 20 100’ at the Vivid gallery in Rotterdam). The store became a graphic design mecca. When you went to visit you could be sure to meet several other designers on the same pilgrimage. A place where you could always find the book you were looking for – and where Frank and Warren had time to talk ‘typography’ with you – and if you were very lucky, or you had the knowledge and foresight to book an appointment, you’d be admitted to the ‘inner sanctum’, a paradise of rare posters, books and catalogues from graphic design names and institutions present and past. Inevitably you would end up taking home other books you didn’t even know existed and posters and catalogues that were just irresitible.

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Sadly, Warren’s partner, in the shop and in life, Frank Nijhof died in 2008. Eventually in 2010 the shop was closed, with all the graphic design books transferring to the Bijzondere Collection at the UvA Amsterdam University in 2011, where the business continued on a smaller scale. Warren, by 2015, was not a well man and regretfully gave up on the business of selling books in 2015.

Aside from the huge collection of Nijhof & Lee books, his own private collection of books, posters and graphic design ephemera was vast. Through his graphic design contacts, notably David Quay, Freda Sack and Hans Dieter Reichert, and facilitated by Rose Gridneff, he finally found a good home for his collection at UCA (University of the Creative Arts) Epsom, where the Warren Lee archive is available as a valuable resource to students and to interested professionals by appointment.

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