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    Coralie Bickford-Smith’s Bookshelf

Graphic Design

Bookshelf: Book designer Coralie Bickford-Smith shows us her top five publications

Posted by Liv Siddall,

Coralie Bickford-Smith’s designs for clothbound classics are responsible for putting legendary literature back into the paws of the British public, luring them in with beautiful design that anyone would want in pride of place on their bookshelves. From foil-blocked editions of F.Scott Fitzgerald to illustrative, patterned sets of Dickens, every novel Coralie redesigns turns into something extraordinarily pick up-able. This is precisely why we let her get away with picking six books for us rather than five – it’s such a treat to see which tomes directly inspire the work she does today. Here she is…

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    Ad. and M. P. Verneuil: Abstract Art, Patterns and Designs

Ad. and M. P. Verneuil: Abstract Art, Patterns and Designs

Containing 40 colour plates of beauty, this book is a source of garish yet stunning colour palettes. I was scared of the boldness of this book for quite a while, but recently a project came up that needed this exact kick-start with colour choice. I like to think my colour work might be turning a corner and I have embraced the fear. The incredible thing is that these fresh designs and abstractions are the result not of the early career of the Verneuils which you might think, but after a quarter of a century of exploration and artistic endeavours.  

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    S.v.Weech and C.H.Gecks: Wie Zeichneich Geometrische Muster and Freie Muster

S.v.Weech and C.H.Gecks: Wie Zeichneich Geometrische Muster and Freie Muster

I got these on a whim from Present & Correct. I can’t read German but the insides are pattern-rich, monotone and graphically delicious to my eyes. They get lost in my bookcase as they are smaller than the average book that lives there, but every time I rediscover them it makes me stop and revisit, invariably gleaning some new visual spark.

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    Richard Bach: Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Richard Bach: Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Many years ago I once met a random person who I never met again. They insisted I read this book and I bought it only to discover that cover was embedded firmly in my memory from the bookshelves of my childhood. I remembered I had only ever looked at the pictures and not read the words. I am glad Jonathan Livingston Seagull came back into my life so I could read the words this time. It echoes my own life perfectly and reminds me to return to my roots to get the good stuff out of it.

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    Ruari Mclean: Victorian Publishers’ Bookbindings

Ruari Mclean: Victorian Publishers’ Bookbindings

When I got my hands on this and saw that it was described as a picture book I thought there couldn’t possibly be a better book than this. Ruari McLean has played a big part in my career as a designer – finding another soul who was as interested in Victorian bindings as myself and who had left a lot of material to study was an inspiration to me as a fledgling designer. His books first appeared on my university reading list and have been a part of my life ever since.

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    Alan Bartram: Fascia, Fascia Lettering in the British Isles

Alan Bartram: Fascia, Fascia Lettering in the British Isles

“If a sensitive piece of lettering is covered up by a tasteless formica and plastic banality, theres a little death in mankind: all of us are poorer.”

I unearthed this book in a bookshop in Southport. Sadly I think a typographer had passed away as there was an great collection of typography books that blew my mind. I never found such a great haul of books again. It is full of old black and white images of shop fronts with typographic signs full of personality. For me its important that Alan Bartram has documented these signs before they disappeared behind the plastic banality of many shop signs we know today. 

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    Blake’s Water Colours for the Poems of Thomas Gray

Blake’s Water Colours for the Poems of Thomas Gray

This book was a Christmas present from my partner’s father who is also a big Blake fan. He advised I explore the Night Thoughts of William Blake and this is another bunch of Blake’s work I had not come across. I like that fact that in the introduction it says that Blake had one of his first visions whilst walking through Peckham Rye, which is where I now live. It brings me much joy to know I’m so close to the history of a man I so greatly admire.

  • Bookshelf

    Coralie Bickford-Smith’s Bookshelf

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Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Bookshelf View Archive

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    Satirical artist and very funny woman Miriam Elia is something of a pro when it comes to books; last year she self-published We Go to the Gallery, a satirical reinterpretation of a 1960s Ladybird book which seeks to help parents explain sex, death and contemporary art to their young ones, complete with a handy glossary of new words to learn. She’s since co-curated an exhibition about Pastiche, Parody and Piracy at London’s Cob Gallery, while other past works include I Fell in Love With a Conceptual Artist… and It Was TOTALLY MEANINGLESS about her relationship with Martin Creed. Hilarious? Yes. Yes it is. Miriam’s Bookshelf includes lovingly weathered books about typography, photography, flesh-eating plants and Butlins holiday camps, giving a neat insight into her brain.

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    John Tebbs is an English gardener who, frustrated by the fact that “many of his working days are held hostage to the weather” founded The Garden Edit in the winter of 2013. His idea was to spend his downtime as productively as possible, creating an online store of beautiful objects which he sourced and sold himself. The resulting curated collection reflects John’s faultless aesthetic, selling “minimal, well-designed products from craftspeople, artists, publishing houses and family-run businesses” alongside a Journal which features short articles by some of his favourite figures about their own horticultural escapades, from rooftop gardens to illustrations of plants.

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    Want to know a surprising secret about self-proclaimed “book obsessive” and Dazed & Confused editor Isabella Burley? She can’t stand big coffee-table-sized fashion books. “I’ve always taken my references from art, pop culture, photography and sex zines rather than fashion,” she told us. “That’s really come to shape the way I approach our fashion content within Dazed.”

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    With 25 years experience in magazine design, not to mention eight years of covering the extensive subject under the title magCulture, it’s a wonder we haven’t already metaphorically burst into Jeremy Leslie’s house and insisted he share his five favourite examples of printed matter right then and there. Instead, we caught him in the build up to The Modern Magazine 2014, the conference which takes place annually in the midst of London Design Festival to shine a torch on the current state of editorial creativity, as well as new directions for the industry.

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    Danielle Pender is the brain at the helm of Riposte magazine, one of the most exciting new publications created to champion the women doing exciting work in the creative industries today, as well as working at KK Outlet, the London outpost of communications agency KesselsKramer, so can you blame us for wanting to have a poke about her bookshelf? Her selection gives a generous insight into the process behind putting together a magazine, from the issue of National Geographic which led her and Riposte’s creative director Shaz Madani to consider a text-based front cover for the magazine (“I’m really happy we had the balls to go with it”) and the all-time hero she dreams of interviewing, with a few other gems thrown in for good measure. She technically stretched her five books to seven, but we let her off because they’re all so damn interesting.

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    I always had a hunch that Bruno Bayley was the kind of guy with a great bookshelf – you can just tell that he’s a hoarder of the weird, the kind of person who would rather stumble upon someone’s diary in a forest than, say, a suitcase full of cash. London-based Bruno is the European managing editor of Vice, which allows him to take his curiosity for the dark corners of the world and pump them out to those who want to know but perhaps can’t be bothered to look. His articles are some of the best on Vice at the moment, so go and check them out after you’ve read his deeply interesting, peculiar top five books. Excuse us while we go and subscribe to the Fortean Times

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    London-based photographer Catherine Losing is exactly our cup of tea; working with the crème de la crème of collaborators from set designers to food stylists, she takes photographs which are colourful, dynamic, bold and immediately recognisable. Unsurprisingly then, her bookshelf is among the very best-stocked of them all, complete with Martin Creed, Barbara Hepworth and Toilet Paper magazine, and most importantly they’re all seriously well-thumbed and chockablock with Post-its.

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    When you ask a couple of creatives who work in a former kindergarten in east Berlin (as we learned in an interview many moons ago) to show you their book collection, you hope to see some pretty cool and quirky publications. Doris and Daniel of Golden Cosmos have not let us down.

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    Design and animation are maybe a bit overlooked when it comes to selecting people whose bookshelves we’d like to share with you. With that in mind this week’s collection comes from the very lovely folks at interactive design and animation studio Animade. They recently incorporated Hover Studio into their midst too, making them collectively one of our favourite groups of creative brains in a five mile radius. Their bookshelf has a serious digital and animation lean, so budding animators and interactive designers, gather round to find out the tomes that’ll yield the secrets of your trade.

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    When we received a copy of illustrated sine Steak Night through the door a couple of weeks ago (check it out in Things here) we were pleasantly surprised to find that Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke is not only a musician, but a keen writer too. Intrigued, we hunted him down and grilled him about his Bookshelf, which turns out to be an incredibly well-stocked selection of graphic novels and comic books, with a little photography thrown in too. He’s multi-talented and he’s got great taste! Here’s Kele telling us about his choices.

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    I get the same feeling receiving the zip file from weekly Bookshelf contributors as I did when I used to babysit as a teenager and casually rifle through people’s drawers (by the way, don’t do that). Witnessing the telling spines residing on people’s shelves will always be intriguing, and Holly’s top five is no exception. The editor in chief of i-D has an absolute terasure trove of some of the glossiest, coffee table-worthy tomes money can buy. What’s brilliant about her selection is just how telling it is of her true passion for the world she has been submerged in since beginning as an intern there many moons ago, and of why i-D is so consistently brilliant with her at the helm.

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    The amount of times we’ve checked out new work from Joe Cruz at It’s Nice That and just sat around with our heads in our hands, gobsmacked at how simple and effortlessly beautiful his work is. Not just that, but his style is probably one of the most easily recognised of the editorial illustrators we chat about here. We love him so much that we even asked him to illustrate a piece in our own magazine, Printed Pages. Here’s Joe on the artists, books and African fashion that have influenced his work over the years. Take it away, Joe!

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    Louise Benson from POST Magazine has curated a selection of books from her bookshelf for us! Since we first wrote about POST in 2011, the digital magazine dedicated to showcasing cutting-edge creativity has spectacularly grown, and has become a very intriguing and forward-thinking online platform. The site explores the blurring boundaries between art, fashion, science and technology, and in the past they have published iPad editions of their magazines. For an afternoon, Associate Editor Louise pulled herself out of the digital realm and spent some time with her physical bookshelf. On to Louise for her list of all time favourites.