Eva and Marta Yarza are not only founders of an award-winning design agency, they are also identical twins. Having worked with the likes of Smirnoff, Adidas, MTV, Converse and JW Anderson, the Spanish designers’ playful approach to design has seen them take on every kind of design brief. From rebranding an abandoned bread factory to creating a typeface inspired by goats’ eyes and Eastern Europe, in the past few years, the duo have been no stranger to us at It’s Nice That.
However not disussing their work with us this week, Eva and Marta have shared the most influential titles from their Bookshelf with us. Curating a wide selection of references that reflect the Yarza twins’ interests, we’re treated to a whirlwind tour that touches on the history of graphic design and circles the world of conceptual art. “Our work is commonly inspired by art,” Marta tells It’s Nice That, “so we love reading up on the topic.” With Eva adding, “we also speak about Brexit, and our fellow designers both past and present.”
So, without further ado, here are the Yarza Twins on five of their personal favourite books.
Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist
This book was very hard to find as it was published in the 1990s. It showcases the work of Tibor Kalman throughout his whole career, accompanied by his own words. For us, reading this book is nearly as valuable as studying a degree in graphic design. Kalman is possibly our favourite designer of all time, he not only fathered the movement of transgressive design, but also created iconic designs that seem so contemporary to us today. For instance, all his work for United Colors of Benetton and Colors magazine. He questioned perceptions of race by changing the race of many famous people like the Queen (before the days of Photoshop) and pioneered the unbranded tobacco laws.
Whenever we need some inspiration, we always come back to this book.
Tony Godgrey: Conceptual Art
We love learning everything to do with contemporary art and, for us, this book is as easy to understand as an encyclopaedia. We find the conceptualisation of fine art ideas very interesting and tend to apply it to our design processes. Overall, this book is a great tool to learn about new artists and their work.
Nathan Smith and Sam T Smith: Me & EU
As European creatives based in London, we really appreciate these kinds of initiatives. The book is a collection of postcards created by lots of different designers and we’re happy to see that there are some names we know, like our fellow designer Mike Fischer.
We feel that Brexit is the dumbest error in the history of the United Kingdom and we are sorry to be affected by it (sorry for the sincerity). We are quite upset, mainly because, despite the fact it affects our lives so directly, we didn’t have the right to vote. With Brexit happening, we have no assurance that we can stay in the country afterwards, we do not know if we will be covered by the NHS despite paying our taxes and we do not know if we will have access to pensions like any other citizen, which we find unfair.
This “land of no one” where we seem to be doesn’t seem to reflect the UK, a country with a rich history. We also feel that London is changing already, many Europeans we know have left in the last few months and the city will definitely miss all those European immigrants that brought so much mix and spice to the city. Also, a bunch of great British artists are indeed first or second generation immigrants; Freddie Mercury, Anish Kapoor, Zaha Hadid, Roald Dahl, even John Lennon had deep Irish roots. So we should remember that immigrants can define and create a country’s culture.
Sagmeister & Walsh: Sagmeister
This book has a great place on our shelf. It was given to Eva after she finished her internship with the New York-based studio and it is signed by the whole studio, how cool is that? It’s great to have a handwritten memory of Stefan Sagmeister, Jessica Walsh, Zipeng Zhu, Wade Jeffree, Pedro Sanches, Morey Talmor, Santiago Carrasquilla and Shy Inbar. Since then, some of these designers have left Sagmeister & Walsh to open their own studios, but it was still a great experience to have the chance to see them all working together at that time.
Andy Warhol: The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
We found this book when we were students and it has stayed with us ever since. It’s a great insight into Warhol’s mind, showing how he thinks and behaves and it’s quite mind-opening to understand how he sees life. Despite being a bit nerdy in his teens (just like us) he overcame this and learned to live life as if it was a party, he never took anything too seriously (not even his attempted murder), We try to live with this motto and would recommend this book to anyone that needs to change their perspective on things, especially these days as there is so much political tension everywhere.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.