For many of us graphic design enthusiasts, there can be a disconnect between the design process and the bookbinding. For the graphic designer Kristine Kawakubo, the art of handmade bookbinding is at the centre of her design process from conception to completion. Experimentation is the key to Kristine’s beautifully hand-bound books as the type and imagery interact to create unique compositions. Speaking to It’s Nice That, she discusses how “when you actually experience the whole process of book making, you are inspired by the tactility of materials and the book’s structure”, which enhances an understanding of the entire design process.
The design of Kristine’s book are concept-driven. Her design ethos originates from mentor and Dutch graphic design legend, Jan van Toorn, who says that “visual communication is an idea, desperately seeking images and other forms of truth in an ocean of rumours.” The Dutch designer is known for developing a critical alternative to the design conventions of the 1960s, valuing the meaning of the design over stylistic expression. His legacy taught the public to question the autonomy between the client’s message and the designer’s visuals — forming a skeptical opinion as a target consumer.
As a result, Kristine describes her work as leaning towards “anti-aesthetic”, which can be seen in the unconventional page layouts that challenge the functionality of the idea of a book. “It is a paradox that anti-aestheticism is actually an aesthetic in itself”, states Kristine. Her abstract book design documents typographic research around different topics that are “exploited to the maximum with no preconceptions” in each publication.
Fundamentally, Kristine’s books are based on “experimental typography through a printing method”. The books explore the complicated structures that make up a book through the use of different sizes of paper with a different design on each page. The pages form a collage, which informs the readability of a document that delves into the chasmic chain of thoughts that inhabit the book’s subject. For instance, Carnialesque Revellion is inspired by the issue of global warming. It records a bank of references and research that expands into “deeper and more critical spots” such as “capitalism and conspicuous consumption".
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