• Hollybig

    Bookshelf: Peter Nencini

Graphic Design

Bookshelf: Peter Nencini

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

This week Peter Nencini, who shared his found-made collection with us in issue #4, has selected his top five books from his bookshelf. As an illustrator and educator at Camberwell College of Arts his selection are informed and are a credit to his canny knack with reference material, his picks come from every which way – birds and bauhaus, occasional work and Wisconsin, the indomitable Yves Klein – with a customary way with words.

Reader’s Digest / AA Book of British Birds Colour plates by Raymond Harris Ching (1977 revised edition)

I was given this as a 10 year-old, at the age when one copies to learn. This book has a sort of restrained, pastoral aspect to the design which was common but forgotten as a minor key at the 70s-end junction between Prog and Punk visual culture. The revelation here was Raymond Harris Ching and his 250-or-so colour illustrations. I was so accustomed to feeding off stock, stuffed, side-ons of native species. Here, depicted was the true oddness of living things, the unfamiliar familiar and the pictorial guts to deny the obvious. A Mallard sleeping, with its bill stuffed back, on one leg. Apparently he painted these in one year at the expense of his health. I’ ve since seen them published, recycled illicitly here and there, never credited. I think they are such definitives that there is an assumption no-one made them.

Wisconsin Death Trip Michael Lesy (1973)

The kind of book that emanates its innards, even when shut. A collection of photographs by Charles Van Schaick of (extra)ordinary life, madness, death in Black River Falls, Wisconsin towards the end of the 19th century, with local news stories of the time. I pulled this book from the RCA library shelves. In its patchy, accidental depth, this library was the pre-Google site for visually motivated mining. I serially renewed this, along with a Ballardian 1980s municipal street furniture catalogue. A frame of mind book, like the right music, to release a making of the right work. Unforgettable images therein: ‘ Horse with Long Mane’ ; a fifteen hands-high nightmare warping of My Little Pony.

The ABC’s of Triangle Circle Square: The Bauhaus and Design Theory Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller (1993)

There are some hefty tomes on the Bauhaus. This thin volume stratches the itch so many feel for the school by focusing on the binding language over the products. For anyone who is concurrently a maker and an educator, it’s essential to find and hold portions of logic that make sense as a single process, where action for one nourishes the other. There is a chapter in here on Friedrich Froebel’ s c. 1850 ‘ Gifts and Occupations’ kindergarten exercises, catalysing my attitude to workshops planned and work made. In the way, too, that this book acknowledges a wonky modernist legacy, it gives courage to those who want to slip Specialism.

Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture Lisa Robertson (2003)

A small book of big ideas. A section of this ‘ shelf’ could be occupied by a number of books which consider objects and spaces as language. This one chosen because it’ s the most recently read, really the find of Marie O’ Connor, who recommended it a few years back. Written by Canadian poet Lisa Robertson; I’ve just heard of another book of her poems based on the BBC shipping forecasts. I’ m not a writer but like to write; and like it when words behave as things; or work in parallel to things in order to explain what things might mean; without suffocating things. She discusses, for example, furniture as a preposition. The Shack as Speech.

Yves Peintures Yves Klein (1954)

This is cheating. The only way I ‘ own’ this book is as a downloaded pdf. But it is treasured all the same, maybe in the way we do-don’t iOwn nowaday publications. I saw the physical (unaffordable, inaccessible) ‘Yves Peintures’ for the first time at Liverpool Tate’ s show on colour a couple of years ago. For me, it’s the perfect artist’s book. Up there with Sol Lewitt. Typographically, formally it’s immaculate. It’ s funny and serious. The colour plates represent nothing except themselves, taking the role of artwork reproductions but actually just tipped-in cheap commercial papers. The wrongness of the colour is the colour. Sidra Stitch called it his ‘ spirit of nothingness’ .


Posted by Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

Most Recent: Architecture View Archive

  1. Kings-cross-pond-ooze-architects-its-nice-that-list

    I’ve slid down an art installation before thanks to Carsten Höller, and I’ve frolicked about in a room full of balloons thanks to Martin Creed, but never before had I literally swum in art until this morning. Bright and early, there I was shivering in art, thanks to a bathing pond art installation in a building site in London’s King’s Cross. The piece, formally known as Of Soil and Water: the King’s Cross Pond Club , was created by Ooze Architects (Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg) and artist Marjetica Potrč, and takes the form of a natural, chemical-free pool, complete with plants and bushes. And who knows what else – I didn’t dare think what one day could be lurking in there after the maggoty old python Hampstead Heath ponds story of a few years back. 

  2. Serpentine-pavilion-int-list

    SelgasCano’s colourful, experimental designs for this year’s Serpentine Pavilion wouldn’t look out of place at Glastonbury’s kids’ tent, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The structure, which will be in place from 25 June until 18 October, is made of materials including plastic fabric and webbing, forming a huge tunnel-like construction that forms a “journey through the space, characterised by colour, light and irregular shapes with surprising volumes,” according to the architects. SelgasCano is copmrised of Spanish architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano, and is based in Madrid. This will be the 15th Serpentine Pavilion commission, with previous designs by architects including Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry.

  3. Thomasheatherwick-studio-nanyanguniversity-int-list

    Whenever I get invited to give a talk at a university I have a pang of jealousy about people spending their days doing creative things (and their evenings drinking in subsidised bars). But it’s fair to say that architecturally speaking, higher education tends to be pretty functional, unless you go to the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore that is. They have just opened their new Learning Hub building designed by Thomas Heatherwick, which comprises 12 tapered towers and an interlocking network of social spaces. The architect says he was motivated by exactly the kind of underwhelming university structures I mentioned above – “unappealing spaces with endless corridors, no natural daylight and only hints of other people’s presence.”

  4. List

    Having only once covered the work of Californian architect Michael Jantzen on the site, it seems about time we provided a little more context to his work and showed off one of his seminal pieces. The M-House is a portable modular system through which multiple iterations of a structure can be made. It consists of a series of rectangular panels, attached by hinges to a gridded frame, that can be moved and manipulated to serve a variety of functions, both structural and decorative. Each new structure can be built to unique specifications so that no M-House needs to look the same. Michael’s intention was that these buildings could serve as a holiday home or as an impressive complex of modular retreats in a single resort. So why hasn’t anyone built this resort yet? Better than Butlins.

  5. List-klmairbnb_02

    Being on a plane overnight can have its merits. Watching a tonne of terrible films, wearing strange towelling socks, having your dinner brought over by someone who’s paid to be lovely to you and wear lots of blusher. It can also have its oft-bemoaned downsides, unhappy and vocal children, being one; lack of sleep being another. However, a night on a plane has taken on something of a different dynamic thanks to a project that’s seen one KLM plane masquerading as a loft apartment, with interior designs by Dutch design consultancy TANK that belie its origins in favour of a very much homely approach.

  6. List

    In recent years the 2012 Olympic Torch, the UK government website and the Plumen lightbulb have scooped the Design Museum’s prestigious Designs of the Year title; last night Zaha Hadid’s Azerbajani cultural centre joined the illustrious list.

  7. Tagas_01-2

    Seeing as the new Soft-Hard Zinc House by Terunobu Fujimori has just opened near Tokyo, we decided that it would be a great idea to put together a list of our favourite Terunobu homes from the past few years. The teetering structures are packed with environmentally sensitive messages, and are the perfect breeding grounds for creative inspiration.

  8. List

    For centuries we have been fascinated by the architecture of power; indeed many of the world’s most visited tourist sites are structures from where religious, political and social power was once exercised. But what about the places which provide the backdrops to the decision-makers of today? Swiss photographer Luca Zanier’s ongoing project Corridors of Power takes us inside the very rooms where the contemporary power-brokers play, many of which seem straight out of central casting.

  9. List

    Step aside all ye pretenders of yore; it’s time to show you my new favourite website. English Heritage – the body charged with protecting, maintaining and promoting the UK’s historic buildings – has launched a new Tumblr on which they treat us to images from their incredible photographic archives. With more than seven million to choose from, the Tumblr takes a thematic approach to curation, showcasing several examples of the same thing each day (today is gravestones, yesterday was railway signal boxes).

  10. List

    Architect and designer Ana Varela was born and raised in Madrid, Spain, where she graduated from the Superior School of Architecture with a bachelors degree in 2007. Since then she’s led an impressive professional and academic career, directing Spanish design magazine Pasajes Diseño and pursuing a masters in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship at ECAL in Lausanne. Now she teaches at ECAL and maintains a professional practice as an interior and product designer in Lausanne.

  11. List

    We’ve featured Brinkworth’s beautifully designed skate parks on the site before when they launched Nike’s BaySixty6, a community project under London’s Westway that invited people of all ages to pick up a deck and try their hand on the ramps. The initiative was such a success that Brinkworth have become something of an authority on skate park construction and have since been invited to create a temporary set-up at the Old Selfridges Hotel, located inside Selfridges department store.

  12. Terrazzo-list

    “Terrazzo is a composite material produced from layers of cement interspersed with chips of glass, marble, quartz, granite and other appropriate material. The invention of terrazzo can be traced to the 15th Century when Venetian artisans started to exploit construction residues to make highly resistant, low-cost surfaces principally used in flooring." Interested? Probably not. But the Terrazzo Project wants to change that.

  13. List

    It’s fair to say that we’re drawn to the weirder end of the architecture spectrum (giraffes sticking out of buildings and the like) so when I came across this installation in the grounds of the Portuguese presidential museum, my boat was well and truly floated. Super serious architecture, maybe not, but these red arches look for all the world like Microsoft Paint squiggles over photographs and that for me can only be a plus.