A very beautifully put-together Bookshelf this week from Duncan Campbell, a writer and creative director know predominantly for his work with the Acne Paper. After spending a few years helping brands such as Bulgari, Hermès, Penfolds, Rizzoli and Veuve Clicquot look better, he has now the creative director and co-founder of Campbell-Rey – a new agency “specialising in cultural and visual storytelling for lifestyle and heritage brands.” You might guess that Duncan has a pretty stylish bookshelf, and you’d be absolutely right. It’s visibly creaking with weighty, beautiful and intelligent tomes, which makes it even kinder of Duncan to take time to pick his top five for us today. Here he is…
Peter Schlesinger: A Chequered Past. My Visual Diary of the 60s and 70s. Published by Thames and Hudson
This beautiful photographic scrap-book by ceramic artist Peter Schlesinger is a unique record of a time most consider to be one of London’s most vibrant periods. Rarely without his camera, Peter travelled to England from California with his partner David Hockney (he is the boy making the splash in Hockney’s most celebrated swimming pool paintings) in 1968, and quickly found himself among the bohemian elite of swinging London. Cecil Beaton, Paloma Picasso and Bianca Jagger are all recurring characters in this touching book, but it is the everyday intimacy with which these scenes are captured that makes it so charming. I interviewed Peter once, and asked whether at the time, he and his contemporaries felt like they were living in a “moment.” He replied that of course not, that one never does, and that it was only through the lens of time that they realised quite how special it had been.
Will Self, Antonio Guida and Juergen Teller: Eating at Hotel Il Pellicano. Published by Violette Editions
This is the follow up to the successful Hotel Il Pellicano in which master of the genre Slim Aarons – along with John Swope and Juergen Teller – chronicled the glamorous and effortlessly idle residents of the legendary hotel in Porto Ercole. In this sequel, which has to be my favourite cookbook cover in recent years, Juergen Teller documents the outrageous gastronomic creations of chef Antonio Guida in his trademark style. While a cookbook in name, some of the recipes may defeat all but the most technically accomplished chefs, but that’s hardly the point. It’s the killer combination of Teller’s photographs, Studio Frith’s dynamic art direction, and the painstaking attention to detail in production by Violette Editions that reminds me why I started making books in the first place.
Albertus Seba: Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. Published by Taschen
Albertus Seba was a pharmacist from Amsterdam who amassed an unprecedented collection of animal, plant and insect specimens during his lifetime, commissioning illustrations of all of them to be published in four great volumes in 1731. Taken from a rare hand-coloured original edition, this mammoth Taschen tome brings them together and does justice to these incredibly detailed plates, which feature some fairly bizarre creatures. I’m a big fan of botanical drawings, and the fact many of the species depicted are now extinct (or never existed in the first place) makes this book all the more strange and engaging.
William Makepeace Thackeray: Vanity Fair with Donald Urquart illustrations. Published by Four Corners Books.
Everyone knows you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I think this edition deserves to be an exception. It would be disingenuous to pretend that I have ever managed to read this great brick of a novel all the way through (despite a couple of attempts), but for me the cover and illustrations alone propel it onto the list. I am a great admirer of Urquart’s irreverent work, which seems to traverse the line between high camp and strangely poetic with an effortless fluidity. And of course there’s that irresistible pink and green colour combination. Also worthy of a mention are his murals at the wonderful Shrimpy’s restaurant in the King’s Cross Filling Station, well worth a look.
The Savoy Cocktail Book. Published by Pavilion
From the legendary Savoy cocktail barman Harry Craddock, first published in 1930, this was the original complete cocktail compendium. Most of the drinks seem to be combinations of gin, lemon juice, and a dash of one or two ingredients you have never heard of in varying proportions, but don’t let that deter you. The illustrations by Gilbert Rumbold are utterly charming, and as an homage good living at the height of the Art Deco period, the book is one of my favourites. The blurb on the inside of the dust jacket notes that, “…society in the 1930s was concerned with supreme gentility and extraordinary fun.” Which is presumably something we can all get behind.