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    Sonya Dyakova’s Bookshelf

Graphic Design

Bookshelf: See which books inspire graphic designer Sonya Dyakova

Posted by Liv Siddall,

We have Sonya Dyakova to thank for some of the most pleasurable, well-designed books and magazines (including frieze) that have graced our site in the last few years. Her work is feminine without being cliched – it’s strong and humble, always allowing the work of the artists that adorn the pages she designs to shine brightly while she takes a demure step back. Unsurprisingly her bookshelf is packed with a concise selection of intelligent, classical tomes that suggest her true love for art in all of its forms. Here she is…

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    Marc Chagall: My Life, 1922

Marc Chagall, My Life, 1922

Packing a suitcase for my move to London, I knew I had to take this book. This is a real treasure – an awe-inspiring and humble story about Chagall’s life. Utterly witty, charming and touching, this memoir is hands down the best I have ever read. Reading every night in my hostel room about Chagall’s journey from Vitebsk to St. Petersburg to Paris whilst I was looking for my first job in London gave me all the strength I needed in the big city.

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    Annelies Štrba: Shades of Time, 1997

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    Annelies Štrba: Shades of Time, 1997

Annelies Štrba — Shades of Time, 1997

Annelies Štrba has photographed members of her family over several decades. Here is an extract from the essay by IIma Rakusa that accompanies the book: “The wooden stairs creak and the children are at home. A daughter, a second daughter, the boy. They come, they go, they ask, they stand around. They plead. And among the children, the cat. It is never clear who wants what but everyone wants. Chaos culminates in the kitchen. Plates piled high, boxes, toys. Somebody’s eating, somebody’s playing, nobody’s giving orders…” An intriguing, nostalgic, idiosyncratic record of memories. I love the seeming simplicity of this book.

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    Art Spiegelman: Maus, 1991

Art Spiegelman: Maus

Art Spiegelman relays his father’s experience in the Holocaust. Jews are mice, Germans are cats. In 1992 it became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.

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    Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace

I’ve only just come to the end of volume 1 and there are 3 in total. Pathetic, I know. I blame emails, Facebook and new digital culture in general. Or my lack of focus. I found the writing extraordinarily modern and very relevant today, although the book was published in back in 1869.

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    Le Corbusier: XX Century Architecture. Published by Progress 1970

Le Corbusier: XX Century Architecture. Published by Progress 1970

‘We are building a residential housing in Marseille for 360 flats — a box for living.’ I have visited that ‘box’ in Marseille and as far as boxes go, it is the most wonderful and joyful one. I’d like to go back again and again.

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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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    Having founded London-based design studio Build in 2001, creative director Michael C. Place has amassed his fair share of books in his time, with a healthy combination of design knowledge to be found tucked between the spines on the studios (admirably well-organised) shelf. We’ve been championing Build’s work on the site for some time now, so what better way to get an insight into the inspirations behind their snazzy work than by hearing from the creative director himself about his favourite reading material? Between Letraset catalogues, reflections on legend Wim Crouwel and Michael’s mate Blam (who has excellent taste in books) we were not disappointed.

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    “In February 2013, 18 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.” That’s the opening statement on the website of graphic novelist Matilda Tristram, who channeled this painful chapter of her life into a bestselling comic entitled Probably Nothing. We interviewed Matilda a while back on the site and were so intrigued by her story, we had to know more. In this revealing, insightful Bookshelf, Matilda shows us the fantastic books that have inspired her to be one of the most important and engaging graphic novelists working today. Here she is…

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    Yay! Hato Press! We love them. A lot. Neighbours of ours, Hato have spent the last five years collaborating with some of the coolest young creatives and oldest institutions to create impeccably beautiful printed matter and design solutions. A number of the publications these guys have produced are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding/smelling, and it seems that every single thing they do or work on is covered in a glimmering magic dust that is exclusive to only them. Before you go and wet your pants over their multi-disciplinary work on their very nice websites (here and here) check out the books that have inspired them over the years below. Enjoy!

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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.