APFEL – A Practice For Everyday Life – are a long-standing and much respected graphic design agency. Their team, recently grown, use a thoughtful blend of beautiful and innovative means to tell design stories for galleries, publishers and brands with identities, websites, editorial, signage etc… it’s very likely you’ve already seen their work so here is their bookshelf! A definitive five volumes, selected collectively by the whole studio, with a insightful emphasis on beautiful books about design (plus Monty Python).
Typography: An Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques throughout History Friedrich Friedl, Nicolaus Ott and Bernard Stein
A mammoth of a book with over 600 pages, Typography is packed full of all sorts of weird and wonderful type design and is guaranteed to provide plenty of hidden gems to help out whenever we’re in need of some inspiration. Rather than displaying type in a sterile environment, it focuses on context and uses examples ranging from posters and ephemera through identities and spreads from books to illustrate the type in use. The really great thing about this book is the way in which it’s been put together – you get a real sense of how different colours, materials and printing techniques can interact with type to achieve all kinds of interesting effects.
Beauty and the Book Mirjam Fischer
This retrospective, published in 2004, charts the winners and runners-up from the first six decades of the Most Beautiful Swiss Books competition, which has been commending exceptional examples of Swiss book design since 1944. It’s fitting, then, that it manages to be a seriously beautiful Swiss book in its own right. No small detail has been overlooked in the book’s design, and there are plenty of playful ways in which it engages the reader: a folded page for an essay titled Book, Reveal your secrets; photography primarily of the nominated publications within the previous exhibition catalogues; and a sweet reminder under the back jacket cover – “Don’t pack your bookshelves too tightly”.
Atlas Nieuwe Hollanse Waterlinie %Joost Grootens%
This is such a stunning book. Joost Grootens is well known for the way in which his beautiful maps interpret fascinating subjects through extremely systematic and beautiful information design. In this case, the focus is on the New Dutch Water Defence Line, and with the finishing touches of gorgeous colour and top-notch print production, it’s a great example of how complex ideas and structures can be enhanced and explained through the power of design. Our copy was given to us by Joost himself, and we really treasure it.
Graphics and Books Dieter Roth
Dieter Rot was a prolific creative force and completely obsessed with the idea of multiples and series – this book pretty much epitomises that attitude, cataloguing all the books, etchings and graphics he made between 1947 and 1971. His output over the years was incredibly diverse, including everything from art books and pamphlets to a series of 100 cakes, and his collaborative and productive attitude is something to aspire to.
Monty Python’s Big Red Book Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam
Though you might not expect it, this can teach you an awful lot about how to put a very interesting book together – from the humour of its content and the playfulness of its design to the inventive printing and production techniques it contains and the way it borrows so effectively from the visual language of the everyday. We already owned this book before we even knew it was designed by one of our heroes, Derek Birdsall, who was working under the moniker Omnific. It’s both strange and a little bit brilliant to think of him designing this and then moving on to something like the Book of Common Prayer. Still, we could always tell it had been designed by someone who knew what they were doing, and was working with their client to produce not just a book about Monty Python but an extension of the film itself.