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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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