Franziska Morlok and Miriam Waszelewski's Bookshelf explores the most interesting and unique bookbinding techniques

25 April 2018

This week’s Bookshelf has been hand-picked for you by Franziska Morlok and Miriam Waszelewski who, on Monday (23 April), released Bookbinding: The Complete Guide to Folding, Sewing & Binding. With 400 illustrations included within its pages, the book is an essential guide for designers (and anyone obsessed with print) explaining industrial bookbinding techniques and packed full of insights from experts.

“Just by holding a publication in your hands, you get an impression of its design and materiality – may they be good or bad impressions,” Franziska and Miriam tell It’s Nice That on why they decided to create Bookbinding. “We noticed that most designers don’t think about bookbinding when starting a design project. But we’ve found that if you don’t plan in advance, the production of print products won’t turn out the way you planned.”

“And to be honest,” they continue, “we are both book freaks! We love paper and the haptic quality of printed objects.” With this in mind, who better to select five of the most interesting and unique binding techniques being employed by designers and publishers? From covers made of lead (yes, the metal) to individually cut pages, check out the duo’s selection below.

Manuel Raeder: Siblings and Twins

Siblings and Twins is a catalogue which accompanies Haegue Yang’s installation exhibition at Portikus in Frankfurt/Main. It has a very simple but impressive bookbinding concept. Yang’s exhibition was part of a serial project in which she staged additional installations in other international exhibition sites. The works are formally distinct but connected by metaphorical parallels, and the catalogue reflects this, consisting of three saddle-stitched books, designed and glued together asymmetrically. We really like this design because although the bookbinding concept is complex, the overall look of the catalogue is clean and simple.

Wilfred van der Weide: Een Eis van Helderheid

Een Eis van Helderheid, introducing the work of photographer Robert Glas, was produced in an edition of 15 pieces. The book is saddle-sewn with thread and has an unusual cover: it consists of solid lead covered with buckram. The lead makes the book abnormally heavy. The cover is bendable and keeps whatever shape it is given – a really interesting interpretation of the book as object.

Hato: Art of Change: New Directions from China

This perfect-bound catalogue, for the exhibition Art of Change: New Directions from China is folded once down the middle, yet nonetheless has a straight fore-edge when closed. To achieve this, each page of the catalogue has slightly different dimensions, cut before binding. We’ve chosen this as an example of great bookbinding as it looks quite simple at first glance, but look closer and you realise the workmanship involved in such a complicated design.

Sandra Doeller: Die Schönsten Deutschen Bücher 2016

This catalogue presents the books being awarded at the Schönste Deutschen Bücher 2016 (Best Book Design Awards 2016). It has two parts: one, a perfect-bound book showing full-scale clippings of the awarded books, leading to interesting effects when images and typography are cut by the format. The second part, a thin book in glue-binding showing all the papers used in the awarded books. This can be placed in the middle of the perfect-bound book and taken out as a reference. The concept and understatement in the book design fits the brief of presenting books in a catalogue perfectly.

Studio Quentin Walesch: Kader Attia, Transformations

Transformations includes works by Kader Attia from 2008 to 2013 and places them into an art historical context. It is saddle-stitched into a hard case, which is very unusual and looks quite rough and brutal. The interior pages have not been trimmed at the front, creating a stepwise fore-edge supporting the process-like impression of the book binding. The rough book binding adds an interesting layer to the otherwise neatly designed book and provides an interesting contrast.

Bookbinding: The Complete Guide to Folding, Sewing & Binding by Franziska Morlok and Miriam Waszelewski is published by Laurence King Publishing, available now.

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

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