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Van Lindonk Passes

Publisher and founder of PINC (People, Ideas, Nature, Creativity – a yearly conference on creativity) Peter van Lindonk passed away at 76. He’s remembered as a great inspirer. 

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 14-03-2013

Peter van Lindonk was an exceptional man with an infectious personality whose appeal spanned professions and generations.  He never got tired of noticing change and seeking ways to inspire and be inspired by the world around him. He passed away on Saturday 2nd March 2013 at the age of 76.

Van Lindonk earned his living as a publisher of special books in consignment: Van Lindonk Special Projects. In 2003 the entire collection of around 700 books Van Lindonk had published over forty years was acquired by the “special collections” department of the library of the University of Amsterdam.

But his more personal legacy is PINC (People, Ideas, Nature, Creativity), a conference held annually in the Netherlands to present the latest and most interesting ideas from across disciplines.

His wife of forty-odd years, Nelleke van Lindonk, plans to continue with the initiative and says the initiative was her husband’s greatest passion.

Peter van Lindonk started PINC back in 1999 after approaching Richard Saul Wurman, founder of TED Talks, to ask if he could start up an Amsterdam chapter.

“Wurman said no,” Nelleke van Lindonk says, “and told Peter he should start his own thing.  So he did.”

Peter van Lindonk returned to the Netherlands and using the connections he had established via his publishing house compiled a list of 60 of his most interesting connections.  “He called their secretaries and said, ‘Give me 3 minutes. Tops.  If I take any longer I’ll give you a bottle of wine,” says Nelleke van Lindonk.

Van Lindonk got his 3 minutes.  He made his speech. “Everyone just assumed he wanted sponsorship,” Van Lindonk says,  “so when he said that all he wanted was for them to buy a ticket to the event, they were relieved.  Fifty-nine out of the sixty bought tickets and immediately he had a very interesting, high-end audience.”

With his planned list of top-notch speakers, and audience, Van Lindonk then went to the banks with his idea.  “They loved it,” says his widow.  “Rabbobank was one of the first to offer their support.”

The Van Lindonk publishing house was always closely connected to the design industry.  “It was always very creative and special,” Van Lindonk says.  “Creativity and a strong concept lay at the core of all the projects and that approach carried over into PINC.  

“Peter was very passionate about this,” Van Lindonk continues.  “When the publishing world changed he really channelled everything he had into it.  You know in the past publishing was a gentleman’s business.  An author would never switch publishers just for money, but all that changed.  It was taken over by a different generation with different techniques, but also a different way of doing things.”

But working with younger people with fresh ideas was something Van Lindonk valued at PINC.  “He liked to have conversations with young people and to listen to them,” Van Lindonk says.  “He would hear what they said and agree with some points and disagree with others.”

And of course Peter van Lindonk’s interest in graphic design, particularly typography, never waned.  He used the agency LAVA to create all the work for PINC.  “Peter came from a more traditional school of thought,” says Van Lindonk.  “Form follows function.  At LAVA Hans Wolbers said Peter could choose two components, but no more.  He chose the name and the colour green.  That was consistent, and then we got a new designer each year so it was fascinating to see what would happen.  Peter had a lot of talks, they would say why and he would say why not. I do not think you should call it a compromise, but in the end everyone was always happy with the results.”

Nelleke van Lindonk will carry on her late husband’s legacy.  She admits that she was never as committed to PINC as Peter was, but says she was always involved in talking about the best possible bouquet of speakers.

“Peter had a very special personality,” she says.  “And I had forty amazing years with him.  For that I am lucky.”

The next PINC conference will be on May 14th.

Images: Peter en Nelleke van Lindonk

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