• Hero1

    Purpose: Simon Beattie catalogues

Graphic Design

Purpose shake up the antiquarian book industry with stunning set of catalogues

Posted by Rob Alderson,

Antiquarian book catalogues is not an area we often associate with gorgeous graphic design but Purpose saw an opportunity to shake up this stuffy industry when dealer Simon Beattie approached them in 2010.

“In the antiquarian book dealing world all the dealers pretty much without exception present their catalogues in the same manner,” creative director Rob Howsam said. “A5, invariably black and white and densely packed with words – all the mathematics of books like specs, sizes and dates. They’re really boring, really academic, really uninspiring and so a really great opportunity for us.

“What was missing was the passion of the artifacts, the smell, the feel. A book is a tactile experience and that was not coming across at all.”

Of course having the idea was one thing, persuading the client to take the leap of faith another. Rob and his team presented two routes – a clean, white, sophisticated approach, “‘smart but not exciting” – and this more creative solution. To Rob’s delight, Simon chose the latter.

Rob says the starting point was his client, who he describes as “an absolute culture magpie, a private investigator sniffing out quirky, interesting and unusual books” and the incredible tomes they found in his collection. “There were some wonderful books like a camouflage book given to French workers during the Resistance which looks like a dictionary but actually taught them how to put a spanner in the works of the Third Reich.”

  • Img_1585

    Purpose: Simon Beattie catalogues

  • Simon-beattie

    Purpose: Simon Beattie catalogues

The design team established a set of constants, A3 size, the big number on the front and the use of bright block colour there, the introduction layout and they moved all the specs to the back, but there were several flexibles too. They played around with contents pages – one approach was a timeline another saw the books displayed “as if laid out on the floor by a pathological book stalker.”

After that they were guided by the books they were featuring. “We let scale and drama in so it felt like you were really rummaging around and we used all this typography that was like a wardrobe we could plunder and draw on.”

This visual language was extended to Simon’s stationary and website and the way he exhibited his wares and Rob says this was no mere cosmetic change. “They were massively effective, the first one sold out completely and we have lots of data about the effectiveness of the catalogues.”

When trying to shake up a traditional industry like antiquarian book dealing the tendency could be to go too far the other way and create something gratingly loud and attention-seeking, but these are things of real beauty, quality and character – worthy tributes to true bibliophilia.

  • Img_1587

    Purpose: Simon Beattie catalogues

  • Sb_spread2

    Purpose: Simon Beattie catalogue (contents page)

  • Img_1588

    Purpose: Simon Beattie catalogues

  • Img_1590

    Purpose: Simon Beattie catalogues

  • Img_1592

    Purpose: Simon Beattie catalogues

  • Img_1599

    Purpose: Simon Beattie catalogues

  • Img_1606

    Purpose: Simon Beattie catalogues

  • Sb_business_cards

    Purpose: Simon Beattie business cards

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. List

    Hot Chip are one of those bands that have always had a fantastic visual sensibility. Illustrator Wallzo has been at the helm of it, bringing us glorious Michael Craig Martin-esque block colours and shapes to decapitated statues. Now, the band is moving into the world of bespoke printing, with the artwork for new album Why Make Sense by Nick Relph using an algorithm that means each copy’s design will be unique.

  2. Rawcolor-febrik-4-int_copy

    Eindhoven-based graphic design and photography studio Raw Color has created a great multi-platform identity for interior textiles brand Febrik, using horizontal, laser-cut lines as a reference to archiving methods in textile sample books. They are utilised both for this purpose and as decorative details on business cards, stationary items and online.

  3. No_rocket_asinello_press_1_1160-int-list

    We often discuss the importance of a decent-looking site in presenting creative work, but until we received Francesco Zorzi’s latest missive, we didn’t realise just how much we were into well-presented emails. A lovely GIF and an irresistible typeface led us to the Italy-born, Amsterdam-based designer’s site, No Rocket, which further cemented his reputation as a man with a very discerning eye indeed. The project we admired the most is this logo for Genoan publisher Asinello Press, taking an illustration of a hoof as its motif.

  4. List

    You’re 25 years old and Richard Turley calls you up out of the blue and says; “Hey, I’ve just got this sweet job at MTV and I’d like you to come on board as my senior designer, are you interested?” Of course you’re interested! You’d be a fool not to be interested, even if it means leaving your current (also awesome) job as an art director at The New York Times. Sounds nice right? Well this isn’t some fictional story I’ve just concocted in my head, this is the soon-to-be legendary tale of Erik Carter, a Virginia native turned New York City creative powerhouse who’s filling our (music) televisions with choice tidbits of witty animation and humorous asides from the world of the web.

  5. Michaelbierut-nyt-signage

    Michael Bierut is a designer, Pentagram partner, writer, lecturer and self-confessed nerd. Taking the stage at the Design Indaba festival in Cape Town yesterday, he announced his new book, pithily titled How to: Use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, and (every once in a while) change the world. Published by Thames & Hudson it won’t come out until later in the year, but we felt it was a good excuse to look at some of Michael’s most interesting work from across the years.

  6. Untitled-paris-ad-int-list

    They say that one good turn deserves another. And one good project leads to another, as Untitled Paris has shown us. Last year, the agency was commissioned to create a new identity for interior design company Laplace, creating a slick monochrome look that uses the name as the logo mark. Untitled says: “The entire identity rests on a simple type system and contemporary but sober look, as the work of Laplace is full of colour and feeling.”

  7. Dyakova-list-mcm_gagosian_back-cover_905

    Earlier this week Sonya Dyakova revealed that she “like[s] to wear a uniform that [she] can just hide in and work.” And while her clothes may want to slink into the background, the work of her agency Atelier Dyakova begs to be in the spotlight.

  8. Kurppa-hosk-korshags-int-list

    It’s not often I get to write about my two great loves in a single article, but sometimes the stars align and I’m covering smoked fish and graphic design all in the space of 300 words. Today I feel blessed! This strange combination of subjects has come together thanks to Swedish agency Kurppa Hosk undertaking a wholesale rebrand for Falkenbergs Lax, a small, family-owned smoked salmon specialist. Charged with turning the small-scale brand into an international major player in the fish industry, Kurrppa Hosk renamed it Korshags, and have came up with a sleek new visual identity to accompany the new name.

  9. George-primo-louw-1

    As a rule we profile Jorge Primo on the site once a year; first due to posters for a shoe brand, then a carpenter’s identity and last year it was just for his personal work. This time round Jorge has been hard at it making graphics for skateboarding brand Louw. He’s done designs for their decks, exuberant posters and even knocked up a hand-drawn version of their logo. Choice!

  10. Francesco-del-russo-bologna-int-list

    Graphic designer Francesco Delrosso has spent the past few years making his way through undergraduate study and out into the big wide world of Fabrica, Benetton’s communications research centre. There he’s honed his skills in research-based design, putting them to use in the creation of all manner of print publications. Since leaving Fabrica he’s settled in Urbino where he’s specialising in communication and editorial design at Isia.

  11. Eloisa-perez-book-int-list

    Early school days weren’t so bad: the odd bit of colouring in, keeping up with the adventures of Billy Blue Hat, playing that game where you have to sit in a curled up in a ball being quiet when the teacher wants a rest. But they could have been even brighter, especially in the learning to write department – and graphic designer Éloïsa Pérez’ Apprendre à écrire offers a perfect solution.

  12. Mariohugo-recentlyrejected-int-list

    There was an interesting discussion on our podcast recently about why anyone would really want to watch the creative process taking place. Off the back of our visit to see what was essentially P J Harvey in a box, we’ve spent a lot of time chatting about how the creative process is slow and messy and frustrating, littered with wrong turns and dead-ends.

  13. List-la-direction_le-sucre_1-int

    A sweet, sweet identity project for you today, in the shape of Lyon-based studio La Direction’s work for venue Le Sucre. The studio is helmed by Aurélien Arnaud and Elsa Audouin, who set it up two years ago and have since worked across print, web, and interior graphic design for clients ranging from adidas to Born Bad Records to Grolsch. The one that most neatly presents the breadth of their capabilities, though, is the aforementioned Le Sucre project. The venue is a late-night party joint in Lyon, and the graphics subtly reflect its hip vibe while remaining resolutely timeless and simple. We love the restraint of the interior graphics, letting the strange architecture speak out, and the gorgeous blue of the printed materials. Elsewhere on La Direction’s site are some excellent poster designs, so we’ve popped a couple of our favourites on here for you. What’s not to love about the blue erotic market woman?