Art and design publisher Counter-Print has released From Africa, the seventh book in its popular From series, which has so far brought us work from Japan, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Switzerland and South Korea. Each book is a celebration of the design culture belonging to the different countries and regions.
The book emphasises Africa’s cultural diversity, and huge mix of design influences. As Counter-Print co-founder Jon Dowling writes in the book’s intro, “its many, diverse countries are sources of vibrant design and African influences are seen in art and culture around the world. However, there is no one ‘African style’ and we should refrain from generalising a continent of such vast scale.”
In his introduction, Dowling also comments on the tendency to stereotype the stories of the continent, which extends to its design output which has too often been represented by “ethnic prints, earthy colours and textures”.
“With the magazine we’re embracing the unique properties of the print medium to explore and celebrate cinema culture in delightful and unexpected ways,” says Daniel Kasman, VP of editorial content. “We don’t have regular columns or reviews – we’re building each issue bespoke from scratch. The experience is intended to be immersive, contemplative, and surprising. It’s a magazine which we intend you to delve into, take your time with, and find a fresh and exciting way of seeing the art.”
Under the creative and art director Pablo Martin, the attention to design detail – its thick, matte cover is a lovely choice – and the abundant space given to unconventional visuals play a big part in this. The newest issue, Issue 1, seems even more playful with typography, packaging and other touches, like the electric blue accents seen across the spine and binding thread. It all feels generous and worthy of a Sunday afternoon spent poring over its pages, a pace warranted by its slower than average biannual publishing schedule. And although a print publication might not be able to accommodate moving image yet, Kasman makes a poetic observation about a magazine being “hand-animated” by flipping pages.
The project, titled Book Of Life, was created for the Moleskine Foundation and is made from three notebooks that Lupi disassembled and then stitched back together into an accordion-esque book. She then set about adding a single white stitch for every day of her life since birth, adding second stitches in coloured thread to mark out milestones.
A colour code, shown at the start of the book, offers a guide to the significant moments the designer chose to mark. Yellow stands for a life achievement, red for love, pink for world events that had a significant impact on Lupi, and blue for big trips. Black and red crosses mark out losses and breakups, respectively.
“At the time I was about to turn 40 and I decided to use the notebooks to reflect on my life so far … I wanted to capture the totality of my life in paper and thread – both key events that I felt were pivotal to the trajectory of my life, and the mundane of the day-to-day.”
Originally published in 1972, this Vicki Cobb classic was due for an update and redesign. This 256-page hands-on book of edible experiments makes it easy for kids to have fun with science. We were responsible for the design and illustration of the book from the typography system, the structure and layout of the experiments, to the informative technical illustrations, to the colorful chapter openers. We used a limited 2-color palette paired with modern, icon-driven illustrations to help take this book to a new generation of readers.
The American designer has spent the last six years drawing, painting, stitching or sculpting a sun every Sunday – and his work is collected in a book dedicated to his ongoing experiment.
“As a human, I was feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, off, all of the emotional catchphrases you can think of, insert them here,” he remembers. “All was going great, yet I was not feeling like myself and I didn’t know why exactly.”
After an especially long week, one Sunday morning Carpenter says he couldn’t get to sleep and went to his studio to watch the sun come up. He started thinking about all the times, as a child, he was sent off to go and play – whether colouring in, building a fort or reading a book – and decided to designate a specific time each week to “just play”.
“It has thoroughly given me a sense of clarity. However, maybe the most important and unexpected aspect of this self-reflective experiment is how these little suns have provided hope to others.”
These new editions bring a fresh set of covers to well-known titles, wrapping them in clashing two-colour palettes and featuring graphics inspired by the contents of each title.
Jo Thomson, deputy art director at 4th Estate and William Collins, says the art department was briefed to create jackets that would look nothing like other classic book editions, but still be timeless enough to stand apart from current trends.
Drawing on her love of typography, Thomson began playing around with designs that used huge lettering and decorative fonts, paired together with graphic images or photos. The real breakthrough for the design came when she shifted the authors’ names away from the centre of the cover and off to one side – allowing the type and imagery to do the heavy lifting. The graphics have also been given a print grain filter to add some extra texture.
Each book has its own unique colour palette, with Jung Chang’s Wild Swans wrapped in mint green and neon red, and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides enjoying a forest green and bubblegum pink.
“One of the key things that we wanted to do was open these books up to people who haven’t read them before,” Thomson. “For books that are older, we wanted to give them a new lease of life with a cover that’s more vibrant and modern than previous classics have been.”
During the eight months since the UK declared the first of its nationwide lockdowns, writers have still written, publishers have still published and book designers have continued to produce an ever-varied range of covers for new titles. Yet there’s no denying that, as with pretty much every job in every sector across the country, the worlds of design and publishing have had to change and adapt accordingly throughout most of 2020.
Ives experimented with forms, techniques and materials ranging from painting and silk screen prints to murals, sculpture and bas-reliefs. His personal work also encompassed fascinating collage work, and he was a “graphic pioneer” of layering according to Heller.
Ives died in 1978 before the “the wall separating applied from pure art disciplines” had “cracked and shattered in as many places as they have today”, according to Steven Heller, who writes the book’s foreword. He believes that, had Ives lived longer into the 80s and 90s, his work may have been recognised more so along the lines of well-known artists whose practice is closely linked to type and lettering such as Barbara Kruger.
Among Ives’ commercial graphic design work featured in the book are various creations that demonstrate his curious eye for slotting letterforms into complex geometric forms, whether his labyrinthine logomark for BT: Bank, or a densely layered cover design for AIGA journal in the early 70s.
The book’s section on graphic design opens with an excerpt from an essay written by Ives himself in a 1960 volume of Industrial Design journal, where he muses on the limitations imposed on graphic designers, saying that these pave the way for ingenuity: “Restrictions are present wherever products are mass-produced – and they are necessary and desirable. It takes an ingenious and dedicated designer to overcome them or use them to advantage”.
Norman Ives: Constructions and Reconstructions is published by PowerHouse Books, priced $65; powerhousebooks.com
Barcelona-based agency Vasava takes a trip down memory lane by reimagining classic children’s book covers in a bid to encourage a new generation of readers.
Some of the titles Vasava has renewed, such as Treasure Island and Around the World in 80 Days, are books less popular with kids today, so the agency adopted an eye-catching concept. “We incorporated illustrations into the lettering, creating vignettes, which would act as a visual synopsis for each novel,” says the studio. “The comic book style was paired with bright colour palettes to create a happy and inviting collection of books that any kid would proudly display on their bookshelf.”
Each title has its own lettering which hints towards the story within, such as Peter Pan’s flowing type that makes the reader think of pirate flags and Wendy’s old-fashioned nighty. To really bring the covers to life though, Vasava took a detailed approach when deciding what the illustrations should contain and they started by highlighting the key characters, locations and objects from each of the novels.
The collection of covers pop with vibrant, clashing colours and are crammed with intricate illustrations. What ties the whole series together is the vintage treatment of each title, reinforcing the idea of the books as literary classics.