We’re pretty big fans of French graphic designer Côme de Bouchony in the It’s Nice That studio – we’ve covered his work again and again and again on the site. So it comes as no great surprise that underneath all of that sharp, reference-laden work lies a Bookshelf bulging with first-rate printed matter. The ten most influential people in magazine design, illustrator Jan Pieńkowski and one very long Italian sausage all have their place. Roll up, roll up!
Lukas Wassmann: L
I remember stumbling across this incredible photobook at Offprint art book fair in Paris a few years ago. I met the publisher Dino Simonett and it left a strong impression on me. There is little to be found about Swiss Dino Simonett, but all I can say is that he seems to be one of those flamboyant, radical mavericks, taking extra care on crafting his sophisticated limited editions.
This one is a large 33 × 48 cm format, printed on mirror-glossy paper, hardcover bound in screenprinted half-linen. Portraits, landscapes, grotesque scenes and images of genuine sculptures are presented in this elegant photobook, full of “grandezza.” It’s all analogue photography. The remarkable and truly unique Wassmann-style is sharp like a Japanese battleaxe, and powerful like a Brancuși. I think of it as the object every collector worthy of their name would kill for.
Christoph Hänsli: Mortadella
Pretty much everything about this book is summed up on its cover:
“Take a smallish mortadella sausage – about 16cm in diameter and 22cm long… Cut the mortadella into 166 slices, each slice about 1.5mm thick. Study each slice from both sides… Take a photo of each side of each slice. 332 photos. The project is to make lifesize paintings, using the photos as an aide memoire on stiff white cards of each side of each slice of the given mortadella. One could suppose that the sides of two slices would be mirror images of one another when opened out. Yet it is not the case.”
Pretty much. Except that this sausage-sliced-world creates an almost hypnotic universe between meditative mortadella mandalas and the slowly changing tender, pink constellations. An ontological approach to the being of a sausage. Add in the fact that the book is beautifully designed by Cornel Windlin and Nazareno Crea (it’s wrapped in butcher paper when you receive it, amongst other surprises) and you probably have one of the best books I’ve ever seen!
Jan Pieńkowski: ROBOT
It is only recently that I realised the greatness and craziness of this pop-up book I’ve had since I was born … Accordingly, it is only recently that I found out the author and illustrator Jan Pieńkowski was responsible for more than 140 other books, and has received numerous awards for his work.
In this one, a version which is now sadly out of print, a robot writes a letter home to his family, and we see their domestic life. Behind this simple story which is full of human warmth, you’ll find vivid and surreal moments, cartoony quality, tonnes of gags hidden in the pages, and an eccentric and goofy spirit.
Most pop-up books just have a few images which extend off the page a little. ROBOT went way further – images were double sided, so if you look behind the copy of the letter the mom robot is holding on the first page, the entire text of the story is written on it!
I could go on for hours but I think you get it… I just love this book.
Yasushi Fujimoto: The 10 Influential Creators for Magazine Design
I was asked to pick five books, but I’m a magazine addict, and I just couldn’t help but find a way to present magazines in this Bookshelf selection.
This book features exactly what you want to see when it comes to magazines; who is making them, where are they heading, where the magic happens, and a LOT of beautiful spreads.
Although it was published almost ten years ago, the selection is still relevant with the likes of Jop Van Bennekom , M/M Paris, Kazunari Hattori, Ezra Petronio, Tadanori Yokoo and Yorgo Tloupas to name a few. If a new edition was to be published today, I can only see two or three names that should be added to this great cast.
I love the way every aspect of the book was treated very simply by the author, Yasushi Fujimoto, who is himself in the magazine design game. He is also responsible for the art direction of the book, as well as photographs of the work environments.
Zoe Ghertner: Simple Pleasures
If you ever get your hands on this charming little book, you will instantly feel the need the possess it.
It’s a beautiful series of geometric still-lifes by brilliant photographer Zoe Ghertner, who is also well known for her fashion photography. It is nicely put together by Gottlund Verlag, an independent publishing project which produces artist books and limited-edition multiples. I don’t know what is their trick to attain this level of colour reproduction, but Gottlund, which prints and binds in house, sure knows how to produce perfect editions with a little homemade touch that gives it a unique flavour.