Brighten the Corners (the name comes from the Pavement album!) is a design studio split in two – it’s made up of Frank Philippin and Billy Kiosoglou and based in both London and Odenwald, Germany – so it makes sense that it has two bookshelves to show for it, too. The studio’s portfolio of work includes some very impressive stuff for the likes of Anish Kapoor, Frieze, the British Council and the Department of Education, and with fingers in such diverse pies we were keen to see the books Billy and Frank were drawing on for inspiration. So here they are!
Studio Dumont: Stadt & Zeichen (City & Signs)
I found this book in the Royal College of Art library when I studied there in 1998. I always loved the library there, and at Camberwell College of Arts where I did my BA. I spent a lot of time in those libraries just roaming around, and those moments when you find a book which stands out from the others are great. It was such a moment with this book. On the one hand it’s a very scientific book about how we perceive the city, with a lot of interesting essays, but on the other hand it shows very visual research in a very deconstructionist manner, which has been a great inspiration for me ever since. (Frank Philippin)
Arbeitsstelle für literarische Museen, Archive und Gedenkstätten in Baden-Württemberg: Spuren (Traces) 1—102: Spuren (Traces) 1—102
This is a great series of booklets which is being published by the Deutsches Literaturarchiv and Deutsche Schillgesellschaft in Marbach [German Archive for Literature and the German Schiller society in Marbach, near Stuttgart. Each 16-page booklet traces the footstep of a writer in a specific place including maps, photos, letters, notes, etc. For example‚ Samuel Beckett at the South-German radio station in Stuttgart, Hermann Hesses Lulu in Kirchheim/Teck, Paul Celan with Martin Heidegger in Todtnauberg or Hoelderlins Table from Tübingen. (Frank Philippin)
Peter Handke: Die Innenwelt der Außenwelt der Innenwelt (The Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld)
An early book (1969) by Austrian writer Peter Handke, with poems, text collages etc. I came across this book while doing research on one of my student projects in 1995, and ever since I’ve looked back to it for inspiration, and also recommend it on a regular basis to students. It presents the Japanese Top 10 charts from 25 May 1968, alongside newspaper cut-outs and philosophical thoughts in prose and is very playful, visual and nicely weird. (Frank Philippin)
Frans Masereel: Passionate Journey
A “silent” story of woodcuts by Frans Masereel. I first read this book in 1992 during my foundation at Kingston University. It was a friend’s copy (curiously belonging to my partner today) and I really wanted a copy of my own but it was frustratingly out of print. As this was the pre-internet era, I spent years searching for it and ended up buying all sorts of other Masereel books along the way, none of which were quite as special as Passionate Journey, though. I never understood how such a book could ever be out of print and still don’t.
I finally found it by accident at Gosh! in 2005, a whole 14 years later! While pulling out a comic from a dusty shelf, the A6-sized Passionate Journey fell out from behind, with a £3 price tag on it. Even the guy at the cashier asked me where I found it. I thought of this book as we often use “silence” when we work on book projects. As a reader, you tend to scan the page looking for text, but when it’s not there you can begin to read the images in a different way. This book ends with a single sentence which is all the more powerful for the lack of any words preceding it. (Billy Kiosoglou)
The Saatchi Gallery: I Am A Camera
This was the first book I ever saw in a bookshop that seemed to be coming from the same design “world” as the one I was engaged in at the time, at the Royal College of Art. There is often a big gap between the subject of design (as it is taught in art college) and the reality of design (the clients, the expectations) and this book, designed by Graphic Thought Facility, seemed to bridge it beautifully.
Art books usually suffer from such respect for the artwork, and such concern about how it is reproduced that somewhere along the process it’s as if everyone has forgotten about the book itself. What I like about this book is its boldness in acknowledging that the project is first and foremost a book. Get that right, maybe you’ve got something. Get that wrong, and the artwork won’t matter because what you have is a conservative, uninteresting book. The “front cover,” which is tucked away one third of the way into the book, is a lovely, foil-block surprise. My only grumble is that both Frank’s and my copy have completely come apart, the glue used by Booth Clibborn for the inserts had less longevity than the design. (Billy Kiosoglou)
A Poetry Book I Bought in Town
I found this book in a second-hand bookshop on Charing Cross road when I was a student. When we design a book we often think of it comprising of moments where something happens. This was an old poetry book by a poet I did not know and whose name I now cannot remember. I picked it up out of curiosity and noticed that there was a typo on one page with two yellow Sellotape marks either side of it. It had been covered by a type-written sentence cut out of a piece of paper, and stuck with Sellotape. The sentence was loose in the gutter. At the end of the book was a signature. It read “each book has been signed by Ms xxx” with the same surname of the poet. Immediately the author of the book became deceased, the signature that of his wife’s and the act of correcting the typo, a loving, labour-intensive act of hers. I have very carefully kept both the book and the typo together. So carefully in fact, that I couldn’t, for all my efforts, find it for this bookshelf feature. I love such moments when as a reader, you put things together and something reveals itself to you. (Billy Kiosoglou)