Geoff van Beek, gentleman dentist

Geoff van Beek is at the top of his profession in dental surgery, specialising in implantology. In fact he was named Officier in de Orde van Oranje Nassau (Dutch equivalent of the OBE), for his lifetime contribution to dental science. His clients come to him from all over the world for his skills and he does the same to source his specialist professional needs.

Although we attended the same Grammar school our paths had not crossed for decades. When they did it was a physical convergence on Devon. There are some very specialised motor-sport engineering skills that exist in England. A very rich vein of hidden talents. One very special outfit is on Dartmoor. Check out Bob Petersen. Engagingly eccentric Mr van Beek drives one of those Bentleys. And no one else may work on this particular beast . . .

What I didn’t know was that, via a school blog, my design website had been visited and checked out. Mr van Beek’s Rotterdam practice needed a fresh graphic look. So when the Bentley next needed mechanical TLC from Bob Petersen we met to discuss the graphics project.

It is noticeable that Dental Practices are largely unadventurous in their visual identity. Strange, in some ways, as we all need our regular dental health visits – and many dread the experience and crave reassurance. But it usually stops at a mobile or something amusing on the ceiling above the chair. I set to thinking it through.

In my work I tend not to create a logo and set about its tidy deployment. Instead I seek to take the pulse of my client and build a graphic identity that reflects what makes them unique, special. The choice of vehicle gives the clue that Geoff van Beek is highly individual. Conversation confirms this characteristic. The surgery reinforces the impression of eclectic interests too. On one hand a beautiful collection of  antique dental equipment, on the other a state of the art 180º x-ray machinery. There is a highly advanced sensibility to engineering and process but it is always tinged with an inclination to humour, often self-deprecating.

And that is what led me to a sleek typographic look – but with a bite out of it.


As an aside, Mr van Beek persuaded me to abandon my Braun electric toothbrush in favour of a Philips Sonicare. It works at much higher speeds with noticeably better results. And I have a challenging set of gnashers. Product placement, moi? Well, I am not on a sales commission but it is brilliant and I thought you might like to know about it. It even starts to replenish the battery as you approach the charger. Spooky.

I leave you with this question. Should Dentists fear going to the Graphic Designers?





A Positive+?



At the moment here is much hoopla about Google+. The new rival to Facebook. It may well be the best thing since the last thing and those who know about such things are happily looking under the hood. There will be reviews aplenty, which will be useful and interesting, but that is not why I write today. I have a question for you . . . Those who have worked with me will already know that I think avoiding plagiarism matters. I also care about giving accurate credit to illustrators, photographers, designers and other contributors. Not claiming perfection but I came into this game via pro bono art direction of The Association of Illustrators magazine and think it is an important principle. In the melée that followed my departure from Pan, a lifetime ago, I was peeved that the crew failed to credit Helen Chadwick on one of my last commissions for Picador, The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. In March 2011 I reformed my website with the splash page Design Works. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that it also changed the nomenclature to Day-Ellison+ to do three things: Firstly to acknowledge that creative direction involves other contributors. Secondly, reassure client misgivings about hiring a one-man band. And crucially to set up for a forthcoming addition of skills to my store (more in a future post). I also like the way that it typographically developed my hyphenated name to an electrical & +. What is on my mind is this. Should I drop my new name now that Google+ has come along? My ‘+’ was unveiled 5 months ago and planned around Christmas. I certainly don’t want it thought that I am mimicking Google. Because I am not. And they are a behemoth whilst I am a minnow. Is it fair enough to keep my +? Is it a good idea to? In short, is my Day-Ellison+ a positive now?