Design Classics: The Dutch Police Identity and Striping

A recent trip to Amsterdam has confirmed one more reason why the Dutch rule: They have the coolest police cars in the world.

Designed by Studio Dumbar in 1993, the striping, in particular, is yet another example of the functionality and artistic invention that manifests itself so frequently on the streets of Amsterdam. The identity, which was designed by creative director Joost Roozenkrans, was named one of 25 Dutch design icons in the last 100 years.

In a 1996 article in Graphis, studio founder Gert Dumbar mentioned a few of the unexpected benefits of the design:

Through our new striping, police vehicles have become much more visible. People see them everywhere. So even when there’s less surveillance, the public still think there’s more! The visibility of the police has increased and people feel safer – now that’s efficiency!

We’ll have much more to say about the state of design (and designers) in Amsterdam in the February issue of Print, so stay tuned.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I would have to agree with you on the issue with the flame and book concept. It’s a sticky situation for some people who visit this country and thinking it might mean something else like you said “Nazi book-burning”. That was an awful scarred event in the history of Germany. My ancestors are from Germany so I’m not quite very proud of that piece of history. I think Joost should have researched a little bit deeper before he began designing the logo. But then again, some countries consider something as non-threatening like a hand sign but it’s a threatening hand sign to other countries. So, maybe this is something that resulted in the lack of awareness on how it may affect what other people would react to a logo like that.


  2. Love the stripes. Bold, effective way to identify police vehicles. Still wondering about Studio Dunbar’s  “Politie” logo: flames and a book.
     
    In 2004 I was one of the speakers at the Icograda “Frontieras” design conference in São Paulo, Brazil. The conference theme was defining the boundaries and benefits of design. And breaking down the frontiers that hinder cross-cultural communication.
     
    I was on a panel with Dutch design journalist and critic Max Bruinsma, who presented the Politie logo as one of the greatest graphic symbols of all time. “The flame symbol represents a beacon,” said Bruinsma. The booklike form represents the book of the law. The police are the beacon that uphold the law.”
     
    I picked up the mike and said that it didn’t work for me. And that it probably wouldn’t for people who come from countries where the role and image of the police is less intellectual than “upholding the book of the law.” Flames and a book can symbolize something quite different. For example, Nazi book-burning.
     
    We almost got into a fight on stage.
     
    Still not sure how I feel about it.
     


  3. Love the stripes. Bold, effective way to identify police vehicles. Still wondering about Studio Dunbar’s  “Politie” logo: flames and a book.
     
    In 2004 I was one of the speakers at the Icograda “Frontieras” design conference in São Paulo, Brazil. The conference theme was defining the boundaries and benefits of design. And breaking down the cultural frontiers that hinder cross-cultural communication.
     
    I was on a panel with Dutch design journalist and critic Max Bruinsma, who presented the Politie logo as one of the greatest graphic symbols of all time. “The flame symbol represents a beacon,” said Bruinsma. The booklike form represents the book of the law. The police are the beacon that uphold the law.”
     
    I picked up the mike and said that it didn’t work for me. And that it probably wouldn’t for people who come from countries where the role and image of the police is less intellectual than “upholding the book of the law.” Flames and a book can symbolize something quite different. For example, Nazi book-burning.
     
    We almost got into a fight on stage.
     
    Still not sure how I feel about it.
     

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    Love the stripes. Bold, effective way to identify police vehicles. Still wondering about Studio Dunbar’s  “Politie” logo: flames and a book.
     
    In 2004 I was one of the speakers at the Icograda “Frontieras” design conference in São Paulo, Brazil. The conference theme was defining the boundaries and benefits of design. And breaking down the cultural frontiers that hinder cross-cultural communication.
     
    I was on a panel with Dutch design journalist and critic Max Bruinsma, who presented the Politie logo as one of the greatest graphic symbols of all time. “The flame symbol represents a beacon,” said Bruinsma. The booklike form represents the book of the law. The police are the beacon that uphold the law.”
     
    I picked up the mike and said that it didn’t work for me. And that it probably wouldn’t for people who come from countries where the role and image of the police is less intellectual than “upholding the book of the law.” Flames and a book can symbolize something quite different. For example, Nazi book-burning.
     
    We almost got into a fight on stage.