Montreal (Canada) – Icsid was sad to receive news recently of Loek van der Sande’s passing. Van der Sande was on the Icsid Board from 1979 to 1987 and remained involved in his role as an Icsid Senator until a few years ago.

Trained as an economist, van der Sande had worked for the Dutch Cotton Institute before working at the Dutch Institute of Industrial Design (Stichting Industriële Vormgeving).

Loek Van der Sande in undated photo with Chief Executive of Secretariat, Kaarina Pohto.

In 1976 van der Sande joined the famed Total Design consultancy. Graphic designer Wim Crouwel, industrial designer Friso Kramer, and graphic and spatial designer Benno Wissing founded Total Design in 1963 to fill the gap in large design firms in the Netherlands, quickly achieving success and renown. As a director at the firm, he acted as an intermediary between the designers and the clients, while also proceeding with organizational restructuring.

In 1977 he co-published a Friso Kramer catalogue in the context of a retrospective on the famed Dutch designer at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

Van der Sande was interested in art and involved with the management of the Mickery theatre and gallery De Appel, as well as with that of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and the Academy for Industrial Design Eindhoven.

Icsid General Assembly in Washington D.C. 1985: Sitting (left to right): Peter Lord, President; Loek van der Sande, Past President. Standing (front row): Keith Grant, Nils Tvengsberg, Zoltan Szabo, Terje Meyer; Antti Siltavuori, Honorary Treasurer; Danielle Quarante, Kazuo Kimura. Standing (back row): Richard Collins, Pere Aguirre, Vice President; Alexander Neumeister, Vice President; Robert Blaich, Secretary General; Kaarina Pohto, Chief Executive of Secretariat; Henk Schellens.

After holding the office of Icsid Secretary General from 1979 to 1983, van der Sande became President the following term, staying on the Board for one additional term in the capacity of Past President.

Ms. Anne-Marie Boutin, President of Agence pour la promotion de la création industrielle — APCI (France), remembers:

“In the design world, Loek van der Sande stood out as quite an original character. First of all because of his extreme discretion – a discretion which makes it difficult today to reconstruct his biography other than through the companies and agencies he was associated with, and a challenge to track down his personal works.

But it didn’t prevent Loek, a loyal pillar of the Icsid Board and President from 1983 to 1985, from being an active influence in what was a period of significant developments: officializing links with UNIDO; promoting the Ahmedabad Declaration on the role of Design in Developing regions (1979); creating a working group on the future and the restructuring of Icsid, the founding stone for the Long-term Policy document 87+ which positioned Icsid as a “three-pillar” institution: promotional, professional, and educational, clearly recognizing the importance of the education membership within Icsid. It was also under Loek’s presidentship that my own institution at the time, ENSCI-Les Ateliers, became a member of Icsid.


Loek and Kenji inspired us to dream. - Anne Marie Boutin

The 1987 Amsterdam Congress further underlined the role and potential of Icsid’s education membership. I had the privilege to participate in the congress with my colleague Liz Davis and a large group of students of all nationalities who travelled to Amsterdam from the Les Ateliers international Summer School. I’m proud to have been elected as a member of the Icsid Board at this congress. And it was in Amsterdam that I discovered another facet of Loek van der Sande and began to appreciate the depth of his personality.

Loek, a key personality of the hosting country, in a duo with Kenji Ekuan (also sadly missed today) offered us a fabulous double voyage through two parallel screen projections of superb photos. They had chosen the common theme of “My land, the water”. Two profoundly different countries and identities, two apparently opposite personalities (and physiques!), two sensibilities in absolute phase, one completing the other, flowing back and forth in a shared universal message of the beauty of the world. Loek and Kenji inspired us to dream. I will never forget this lesson of philosophy, poetry, and companionship.

Over the following years I gradually discovered the man, his kindness, his sensitivity, his loyalty. And his love of life… in particular the quality of life in France, the country he chose as his home in later years. And, of course, his sense of humour. During one of our encounters in Paris nearly a decade ago, I took him to a café in the historic Marais area… only to find, after a drink or two, that we were in a gay bar – one of the first in the neighbourhood at the time. Loek was greatly amused at my embarrassment and often recounted the story over the following years, humorously lending me the role of entremetteuse and raising many a smile.”

Our thanks to Ms. Boutin and to Frederike Huygen and Bas van Lier for assistance with this article.

Loek Van der Sande (third from right) in an undated group photo with President Peter Lord (fourth from left).