Beautiful, bespoke book design. This alliterative description is an apt way to describe the output of Taiwanese design studio Mistroom. Founded in 2010 by Peng Yu-jui and Huang Jui-i, the studio remains sensitive to a certain design aesthetic to “reveal the true essence of daily life” through the evocation of multi-sensory memories. Its approach to book design challenges our expectations of how a book should appear, incorporating elements of performance through the reading experience to deliver a truly innovative design experience.
In their latest project titled, Not Just a Library Ticket the studio creates a limited-edition book that collages 22 expired magazines together, forming a hybrid book made up of 10,000 tickets and creating a unique reading experience for its readers. The 1667-page document transforms the preconceived functionality of a book, elevating the standardised double-page spread into a flurry of interconnected smaller books that sees six different rectangular books stacked on top of one another.
The founding designers describe their intentions as, to “lead readers on a journey of exploration through the reading and visuals”, in the hopes that the book will trigger further inspiration and generate creative thoughts through the performative action of turning over multiple pages up and down the book.
Another project, A Monologue For You documents 212 love poems in an edition of an equally satisfying, 212 prints. All the books were published on 12 February to coincide with the birthday of the book’s subject, and to strengthen its “special meaning”, which is intended as a birthday present for the addressee of the poems. The design is based on the format of a calendar to further mark the passing of time that the love saga details.
After finishing a page, readers are encouraged to tear it down, akin to the monthly task of using a wall calendar. As the pages are torn down, a portrait of a girl “surprisingly appears” but only if the readers can solve the clues on the back of the pages. What’s more, the crumpled foil cover acts a rather morbid reminder that “love has its deadline” and the foil can fold and crumple “just like a broken heart.”
Lastly, Mistroom’s design for Aroma Island employs the power of scent to amplify the transportive reading experience. The beautiful book echoes the natural environment with its moss-like cover in an attempt to “recall people’s memory of Taiwan”. The book’s smell transports the reader to Taiwan, arousing “the fragrance of the land after rain” falls. Mistroom chose the paper stock to resemble the texture of grass and the book comes with essential oils which assigns a top note, middle note and base note to respective chapters of the book. At the base of the book, beyond the third chapter, brown pages “radiate the steady and soil-like base note” of Taiwanese earth. And over time, the heady fragrances and inks will slowly sink through the pages to represent the irrepressible growth of nature.
Peng Yu-jui and Huang Jui-i finally add that the “readers senses are open and led to experience the smells, soil, moss, thin fog and sunshine while reading through this book"; revolutionising the idea of what a book is, and can be.
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