Isabel + Helen is a creative partnership made up of Isabel Gibson and Helen Chesner. Firm friends at university and now a creative duo specialising in set design and interactive installations, the pair have a knack for infiltrating spaces with cleverness and ingenuity.
Known for using bright colours and pared back shapes, Isabel + Helen has worked with Assemble for the RIBA Brutalist Playground, the V&A for an interactive set in their Russian Avant Garde show, and Icon magazine for their October issue. The latest project is a geometric swing as part of Chelsea 10, an alumni exhibition celebrating ten years of Chelsea College of Arts. If you can’t keep up with that dizzying amount of work, fear not, as they’ve just got a snazzy new website too. We wanted to find out which books have inspired their vibrant practice, so asked the duo to reel off their favourites. With dog photography, a children’s snack-based classic and a sculptural waxy, red book, Isabel + Helen’s selections are as tactile and beautiful as their own work.
William Wegman: Fashion Photographs
This book is an accumulation of William Wegman’s great fashion photography from 1980-1999, featuring his two beloved dogs Man Ray and Fay Wray. Full bleed, glossy images make for a great series of humorous and surreal, yet stylish images in which his dogs take centre stage. His unique bond with these canine stars allows for some beautifully natural and playful interactions.
David Pelham: Sam’s Sandwich
A fold-out, tactile book from our childhood which I vividly remember biting in to. Sam’s Sandwich is a delicious hardback snack, filled with creepy crawlies which Sam has lovingly made for his sister Samantha. I stumbled across it in a bookshop recently and the memories of the slug filled tomatoes came flooding back.
Irving Penn: Irving Penn Betrachtet das Werk von Issey Miyake
We had been after this book for a while but it was a bit pricey, until one day we found it published in Dutch for a third of the price! It has an extensive series of photos taken by Irving Penn of Issey Miyake’s collections over the past 30 years. Capturing the pleated textures and billowing shapes, the photos transcend beyond fashion and the clothes become intriguing sculptural forms.
John Wood and Paul Harrison: Minigraph 2 John Wood and Paul Harrison
This book looks at the experimental and faux-scientific work of the playful duo John Wood and Paul Harrison. It shows their initial sketches, through to the performance of each experiment in their workshop-cum-TV studio. It’s a great insight into how they work, thinking up these satisfying yet simple interactions with objects and architectural spaces. All with an air of madness and delivered with a dry sense of humour.
David Anfam: Anish Kapoor
The cover here says it all. This big, thick, weighty book with its waxy, red sleeve is only a sign of what’s to come… Spread after spread of Anish Kapoor’s epic, awe-inspiring sculptures captured in all their glossy glory. His sculptures are blown up and displayed as double page spreads, commandeering their space and emphasising their vast sense of scale. We just love his use of viscous materials and bold colour.
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