Committees, ReportID | June 9, 2020

In these trying times, we all have to miss our days at the university. Walking through the faculty, Wednesdays in ID Kafee and following lectures in the halls. To lighten your pain and to give you the warm feeling of IO back and bring it into your own living room, we will be posting a story about a place on the faculty every month. This way you will know more about the faculty when we are allowed to come back! This week, a place on one of the farest ends of the faculty; the Emile Truijen Hall.

by Report ID 2019 | 2020

Architecture, furniture design and industrial design, Emile Truijen could do it all. This creative jack-of-all-trades was born in Indonesia in 1923. As a child, he suffered from polio and he kept dealing with a paralyzed right leg and hip the rest of his life. This, however, did not stop him from studying interior architecture and furniture design in The Hague. While studying at the Royal Academy, he met Joost van der Grinten. Truijen: “Joost was engaged with furnishing, I focussed my efforts on the details of his design.” 

Emile Truijen(on the right) working together with Rob Parry, with whom he also designed the red letterbox.

Truijen got a scholarship to go to the USA, where he worked as an assistant of a professor at the faculty Industrial Design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburg. Later, he also became an assistant in New York, at the Design Research Laboratory at the Pratt Institute. 

In 1954, Truijen came back to the Netherlands and worked collaboratively with Rob Parry, an iconic designer he knew from his years in The Hague. Parry designed more than 40 different models of chairs, which you might have heard of as Rob Parry Originals. Four years later, Truijen became a part-time lecturer at the Academy of Industrial Design in Eindhoven. After that, he started his own company and cooperated with Parry again to work on the well-known red letterbox. This red mailbox now adorns the halls of the IDE faculty. Later on Truijen founded a design agency, Teldesign, along with Jan Lucassen. This company has built, among other things, the corporate identity of NS and is now the oldest existing design agency of The Netherlands.

The PTT letter box which Truijen and Parry designed.

In 1964, Truijen started working at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at the TU Delft. The job offer came from van der Grinten. First, he became a lecturer, but after seven years he became a professor, despite his absence of an academic qualification. In that same year, Truijen was also appointed chairman of the ‘experimental degree program’ of Industrial Design. At the time, every year consisted of an entire design process, from idea into a final design. 

A part of the staff of IDE, probably during a visit to the holiday home of Emile Truijen in the late 1970s(a.o. Norbert Roozenburg and Wim Crouwel)

Together with, among others, Roozenburg, a new form of education was devised. This creation was called the ‘Boerakkerplan’, named after his weekend stay in Boerakker, Groningen. The first year was focused on the basic cycle of design, just like our current PO1 course. The second year concerned the ideation and design sketches and the main purpose of the third year was a preliminary investigation. The fourth year was directed at the final design, like engineering problems, prototyping and evaluating.

In 1973, Truijen became the first dean of the department of Industrial Design. Seven years later, Truijen retired and moved to France. There, he wrote ‘Letters from a Designer’. In 1990, all his letters were bundled and published by the faculty of IDE.

Used literature

1. Eger, A. O. (2004). Van het eerste uur. Grondleggers van de faculteit Industrieel Ontwerpen.  

2. https://www.teldesign.nl/bureau/geschiedenis/