Founded by Yvan Martinez and Joshua Trees, Books From The Future is the London-based publisher whose projects are often born from experimental collaboration or investigation. Its titles such as Performance Society and The Multiple Lives of a Blank Book are known for concept-first content coupled with accomplished design.
The duo work at the intersection of research, education and publishing and established Books From The Future in 2012. Yvan is course leader of the BA graphic design study abroad semester programme at Central Saint Martins and associate lecturer for MA graphic design communication at Chelsea College of Arts. Joshua on the other hand, is a lecturer for BA graphic media design at London College of Communication and a visiting tutor for MA visual communication at the Royal College of Art.
Their joint projects, in collaboration with a host of talented designers and editors, explore the models used to structure contemporary art and design education that are “no longer relevant yet have become so institutionalised and internalised that alternatives can seem wildly idealistic and unrealistic by comparison.”
We caught up with Yvan and Joshua to find out more about the books that have informed their unique practice, ranging from an ironic clothing catalogue to a book about Lewis Carrol’s Alice travelling to a futuristic Manchester.
Winston Leyland: Gay Sunshine Interviews Vol. 1
Is there such a thing as a ‘gay sensibility’? If so, where does it live in contemporary culture? What forms does it take? Growing up queer during the 80s we didn’t have many role models to look up to – besides the usual stereotypes – specifically when it came to the relationship between sexuality and artistic practice. This compilation of interviews serves as a prototype of identity politics, public dialogue and criticism. An indirect way to discover ourselves and to reveal the queer in human and the human in queer.
Jeff Noon: Automated Alice
It was inevitable that we would look for that moment of inception when we became addicted to Vurt feathers and started to unfold the mazes of an alternate Manchester. Even though Automated Alice has been “advurtised” as a companion to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, we believe that to be a Trumpian trick to keep us away from historical knowledge. Automated Alice is not only a connecting door between Victorian and future timelines but the origins of our hybridisation with other species – mmmm… perhaps we’ve misheard everything. Let Alice, Newmonians, Civil Serpents and the cat Quark chronicle what they know.
Maurice Nio, Joan Almekinders: Eat This!
We discovered Eat This! one rainy morning in Amsterdam walking along Oude Hoogstraat. We were immediately compelled to buy it despite the fact that our Dutch was (and still is) dreadful. Back at home, we started sniffing the unidentifiable spices that came with the book, then perused its contents, a strange mix of food, markets, manga, explicit imagery, movie stills, people feeding (themselves, each other, animals…) and beguiling collages. The book became a challenge, a puzzle. What secrets was it holding? We spent hours deciphering its meaning. In the end, we realised that it didn’t matter. The book had become a magical object capable of infinite narratives.
Years later we learned that Eat This! is about the architecture of public food markets, the market as a public domain, a catalyst for exchange between different social groups. Regardless that we now know what the book is, it has never lost its voodoo for stirring our imaginations.
Diesel: Essential Words and Phrases for Travellers and Tourists
An invaluable travel tool for the uninitiated in Europe. It could be difficult to get around if you didn’t know how to say “Please remove that fetid carcass from the bedroom” or “The creature is baying for more blood” in English, Italian and German. Renting an Airbnb? This book has got you covered – “What is that terrible scratching sound in the loft?” Found an unexpected visitor in your rental or hotel room? Just pick up the phone and whisper “Its awful vice-like grip is tightening around my throat.” Eating out with your new local friends? Impress them when you tell your waiter, “This is filthy”, “Why are you so damn slow” or “You are a confounded pest”. We never travel without it. A companion book that will guarantee a perfect adventure through and through.
Malaclypse the Younger: Principia Discordia
“Religion is the opium of the people” is one of the most paraphrased statements by Karl Marx. Obviously, Marx hadn’t heard of Discordianism when he wrote that. Through chasing the teachings of Principia Discordia over the years we have developed a sort of mantra – a thought behind the action – that permeates our practice, bringing order and disorder to form a framework of ideas that are mistakenly branded as “reality”. Applying the Aneristic Principle (order), the Eristic Principle (disorder) and the notion that both are mere illusions can really make a difference to any situation, not to mention the universe itself! If Discordianism ruled the world, what would you design? Did we just imagine all that?
About the Author
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.