Rational Beauty


“Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love,” Louis Kahn once said. Rational Beauty—recently relocated from Brooklyn to Austin, blog floating in the ether, and aesthetic philosophy—embraces this ideology. Founded in 2009 by Jeanette Abbink and Mike Abbink, Rational Beauty works with clients to create editorial and identity projects that are both intelligent and refined. We believe that skilled craftsmanship, dialogue, and hard work are key to making powerful design. Our philosophy is reflected on our blog, where you will find stories that inspire our practice. While beauty may appear chaotic—or even random—it is supported by a scaffolding of rigor, training, and discipline.

Jeanette Abbink

Jeanette is a graphic designer, author and educator who recently relocated from Brooklyn to Austin. Under the auspices of her studio, Rational Beauty, she has created award-winning editorial design for such magazines as Dwell (where she was the founding creative director), American Craft, and Pan and the Dream, and books for publishers including Rizzoli, Aperture, Abrams, Monacelli, and Clarkson Potter (where Questlove’s Something to Food About: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs, won an AIGA Fifty Books of the Year Award).

She taught publication design at Parsons School of Design, The New School when she lived in Brooklyn. Currently, she teaches editorial design and typography in the School of Design and Creative Technologies at the University of Texas, Austin.

Jeanette co-authored with Emily CM Anderson 3D Typography, a book showcasing the work of more than 100 designers, typographers, and artists who create typefaces out of everything from moss to human skin.

Rational Beauty’s recent projects include book and magazine design: As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic, selections from the Wedge Collection (Aperture 2021); Blue Violet by Cig Harvey (Monacelli 2021); Flower Flash by Lewis Miller (Monacelli 2021); and Pan and The Dream, Supernatural, issue No 5 (Pan and The Dream 2021). As We Rise garnered an AIGA Fifty Books of the Year Award and Pan’s Supernatural was shortlisted in D&AD’s magazine and newspaper category.

For Mojave Art, an online gallery, Jeanette also created a series of giclee prints depicting desert flora and fauna. The series focused on cacti, the star-flooded night sky, owls, and jackrabbits, all drawn in flat colors and minimal detail.

Mike Abbink

Mike is currently the Executive Creative Director with IBM Brand Experience and Design—a team dedicated to brand innovations, experience, and design.

Abbink’s career began over 24 years ago at MetaDesign in San Francisco. He worked with Nike on strategy and visual concepts for Niketown Honolulu and Vienna, Melbourne, and Toronto stores. He co-founded the agency Method, where he served as Creative Director and worked with clients such as Adobe, Autodesk, Gucci, and MoMA. His extensive experience continued with his work as Executive Creative Director at the Museum of Modern Art, Design Director at Apple Computer, Creative Director at Wolff Olins, and Creative Director at Saffron Consultants. Clients included Adobe, Apollo Tyres, Citibank, Belkin, GE, Goldman Sachs, Gucci, IDEO, Knoll, Microsoft, MoMA, Mozilla, Nike, Nokia, Product(RED), PwC, Swiss Re, and Visa.

Abbink has received numerous prestigious international awards for graphic and typeface design, including the most recent Pencil award from the D&AD 2020 Awards for IBM Plex Arabic and the TDC 64 2018 Judges Choice award for IBM Plex. He holds a BFA in graphic design and packaging from the Art Center College of Design. He has served as an adjunct professor at the San Francisco Academy of Art, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a guest critic at Yale’s graduate design program.