Publishing

A Case For Art and Architecture Books

When most people think of a book, rarely do they think of it as a work of art. Most of us think of books as a tool for the communication of ideas and information. If the layout, typesetting, and design are well executed the book becomes a seamless experience. You might be attracted by the cover, subject, and writing style, but it’s still just a book. The publisher Taschen has found a way to transcend this concept by producing limited edition books that elevate the content to a true art form. 

I often turn to the Taschen website for design inspiration simply because their book designs are so good. Page layout, use of typography, color pallets, etc. When it comes to visual design, Taschen nails it. Lately, I have been returning to the Limited Edition section of the site, not for inspiration but out of pure lust for what can truly be called works of art. Case in point “Piano Virtuoso” a $1250.00 limited edition, 200+ page tome on the life work of architect Renzo Piano. 

This book is limited to a run of 200 and comes delivered in a hand-built wooden crate that is identical to the ones his studio uses to deliver architectural models to his clients. It has a hand-pulled lithograph of an original drawing by Piano that is signed and numbered of the Menil Collection Foundation in Houston, Texas that also elevates this to a status beyond what we typically consider a “book”.

With this being limited to an edition of just 200, and a price point of $1250.00 I’m going to have to be content either browsing online and dreaming or opt for the less expensive version of the book with no hand-built case or lithograph. One of the local Barnes and Nobel stores actually has a copy of the non-limited edition books so I had a chance to actually see to see it in person last week. 

Like everything Taschen produces, the quality is top-notch. Beautiful page spreads that built a visual rhythm as you scan from page to page. There is an elegant use of photography, illustration, and type that helps to anchor the body copy and showcase Piano’s genius. Gatefold spreads are used to show the architecture in the context of its surroundings allowing for panoramic views. The copy is crisp and concise giving just enough information without becoming overwhelming or granular. The book does a great job of building the story of Piano’s career to date and the many existences of his singular aesthetic.

As for the Limited Edition version f the book being a work of art, I would contend that it’s close. It’s definitely a piece of fine craft when you think about the hand-built case and the limited edition print that come with it. Maybe not a work of fine art but a highly collectible hand-crafted object showcasing the art of a genius. If I could justify it, I’d add it to my small collection of Taschen XXL books. From the photo’s I think it looks absolutely amazing. That wooden case is exquisite. 

Condé Nast – Editorialist

Condé Nast is probably one of the best publishers of magazines for digital devices like your tablet or phone. They have embraced the technology and taken full advantage of  extensive interactive components that make their publications more immersive. Like any other publisher of content in todays world they are not free from the effects of a public trained to gather all their content for free online.

At Future Lions 2013 competition in Cannes this year, one of the winners was an idea presented for Condé Nast to keep the publisher relevant in an ever changing digital content world. The winner for Condé Nast’s magazine portfolio was actually something rather simple, and quite compelling. Part Flipboard, part Utne reader. It is a Condé Nast app that allows readers to select their favorite articles from any Condé Nast magazine, and then build your own monthly publication that brings all of your favorites together in one space for a monthly fee. This is something that publishers should latch on to.

Coralie Bickford-Smith on Book Design for Gestalten.

Coralie Bickford-Smith In-house designer of Penguin Books, is the subject of this latest release for Gestalten TV. Her role as an in house designer for Penguin has allowed her to create incredible designs for a popular book series that has attracted worldwide attention.

Bickford-Smith talks about her opportunity to work with sumptuous materials and Victorian binding that she has infused with modern interpretations to update these classics. Her design work which was introduced in Gestalten’s Fully Booked: Ink on Paper show the influence of the golden age of the  craft of bookmaking and publishing.

In video below, Bickford-Smith talks about the process of book design and the significant role of research, her process, and how she got struck by the book of love at a very early age. She also talks about why the best in book design is yet to come.

Volio and Esquire Create Interactive Video for the iPad

This is a pretty interesting idea from Esquire magazine. It’s not perfect but it does show a good attempt at interactive video on the iPad. Since this is version one, of this app it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out as Esquire develops more content, and as the data base of questions grows.

Developed in conjunction with Volio, the “Talk to Esquire” app uses voice recognition to deliver what feels like realtime video, but is probably pre-recorded. The software analyzes your questions and then delivers the most appropriate response. The demo video is pretty dry with Esquires editor in chief showing off the app, but it’s worth watching because the potential of where this could go is pretty huge.