Cai Griffith, Craig Scott, Chris Vickers are all partners at London-based studio She Was Only. Taking care of design and art direction the small team creates simple and intelligent work, and are probably most known for their super editorial and digital work for magazines including Boat, Huck and Intern.
With such clean and considered design throughout She Was Only’s projects, we were keen to find out what books have helped Cai, Craig and Chris along the way. If you’re a graphics or type fan get ready for a Bookshelf that reads like a “five books every designer should own”. With grid systems, a compendium of type forms and a graphics standard manual all featuring, get ready to drool.
Robert Bringhurst: The Elements of Typographic Style
There aren’t many books out there that tell you everything you need to know about setting good type, but this one does just that. Every student studying design or typography should own a copy of this book. Whilst being incredibly opinionated, the book is beautifully written and beautifully typeset. A bible for anyone who uses type and one we keep coming back to.
James Sutton and Alan Bertram: An Atlas of Typeforms
This book was given to us by a furniture designer friend who used to work near our old studio. We’re very lucky in that whenever we meet him he digs out old books on letterpress and type from his studio and gives them to us. A big book at 16 × 10 it doesn’t fit on our bookshelf which is a shame, so we keep it with our other oversized magazines and books. An Atlas of Typeforms opens with a brief overview of the history of type, before going into pages and pages of beautiful type specimens split into categories, showing how the letterforms have evolved over time.
Josef Müller-Brockmann: Grid Systems
Josef Müller-Brockmann needs no introduction, and this book is an absolute classic. Set in German and English throughout, and full of fantastic visual examples, this book is a comprehensive guide on using grid systems for achieving balance, structure and hierarchy in design. The book is beautiful and laid out on a strict grid throughout, just to help make its point.
Johannes Itten: The Elements of Color
This book was saved by a teacher friend when her school was throwing out all their old books. Itten was a teacher at the Bauhaus and this book is a condensed version of his extensive colour theories. Not a light read by any means, but incredibly interesting. Lovely cover as well.
New York City Transit Authority: Graphic Standards Manual
It’s done the rounds this one, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. After backing the Kickstarter campaign last year, we were really impressed when the finished book landed on our desks. It’s big (another one that doesn’t quite fit on the bookshelf), but what’s not to like? The NYC subway, Vignelli, Unimark, and an iconic graphic system that’s truly lasted the test of time all within one beautifully bound book. It’s not the original manual we wish we owned, but this is by no means a sacrifice.
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