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Our Bookshelf

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Today we would like to share one of our favorite design books, a monograph on Marian Bantjes: one of our absolute design idols. The Canadian designer specializes in typography, ornamentation and has a recognizable-but-not-repetitive style that really speaks to our sensitivities. This large-scale books showcases her work and is just such a beauty to look at, a true sensual pleasure. As if that wasn’t enough, the works are annotated with witty, honest stories about how they came – or didn’t come – to be.

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Bantjes has a wonderful sensitivity for non-traditionally understood calligraphy which she combines with more geometric letterforms.

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She has also a true talent (and patience) for filigree ornaments, partly Arabic, partly historic but overall modernized.

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And, of course, her work on tangible typography is one of the most impressive out there and inspired our own search many times. Here, for instance, sugar lettering.

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We’re not sure if this book is still in stock (probably?) but if you like to look at gorgeously designed letters, this is definitely the coffee table book for you.

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In addition to children’s books, we also love beautiful books about design. This one, for instance, shows the work of Jurriaan Schrofer, a somewhat lesser known Dutch designer (1926–1990). He created modernist typographic designs, experimented with letters and grid, designed typefaces, even tried tangible type. His work has a very distinctive style, which you will love if modernist typography works for you.

The book by Unit Editions showcases Schrofer’s designs, giving basic information about them. Visually, it’s an interesting edition with a vivid orange color used in the middle, black thread for binding and, most strikingly, the open spine (we’re of two minds about open-spined books because, while eye-catching, they are much less durable).

The cover with just the designer’s name arranged of the letters he used illustrates his style particularly well.

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Recently we visited a local museum and in the gift shop we found a little gem illustrated by a friend from work, Joanna Czaplewska. The book tells the story of the most famous painting you can see in our area, The Last Judgment by Hans Memling (here, if it’s not famous enough). In simple illustrations it shows how the painting was created and how it ended up in Gdańsk. The book is remarkable not only for its historical detail but also a subdued, painterly color palette.

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Last week we shared with you a book by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud about the ocean. But the first time we encountered a book by these artists was In the Forest, their beautiful and sad story about deforestation (and, luckily, re-forestation). It uses very ingenious techniques of paper engineering to talk in simple ways about the destruction of forests, still ending on a hopeful note. While the ocean book is probably more cheerful, this one, we feel, works more strongly.

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(Also, as a not-irrelevant side note, consider not buying products with palm oil, if you feel the need to do something.)

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Today let us share a beautiful book called Under the Ocean by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud.

The book is a mastery of paper book engineering, with each spread unfolding in two steps: first to show the situation on the surface of the ocean, where the boat Oceano is traveling. Then, with more impressive sculptural effects, we’re shown what’s underneath it. The 3D extravaganza is paired with beautiful, subtle illustration whose strength lies in just enough detail combined with subtle painterly effects and sensitivity.

It takes you on a journey through the richness of the ocean and while not as directly focused on the ecological message as their previous book about a forest (we’ll show you that one, too), it still manages to convey the beauty and the vulnerability of our oceans.

The cover of the Polish edition.

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The boat is starting its journey.

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Whales (the minimalist spread offsets nicely more busy spreads around it.)

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Seals in the Arctic.

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This is probably not exactly like seeing the coral reef but what a beautiful approximation.

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Spring always feels like a Jane Austen season to us, maybe because of all those walks in parks she describes. It’s not quite spring yet but it still feels like a good time to share one of our recent Christmas gifts: a box set of all Austen novels (and her juvenile writings) in elegant canvas covers, with neat editorial work to boot. The whole set is published by Penguin Classics and looks great on the shelf.

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And we mean “box” literally because the books come in a carton/canvas box with a floral pattern.

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All the individual books, with their different patterns. (Admittedly, we’re not always sure why the particular pattern is chosen but they look good.) Notice the interesting, far from obvious color scheme.

Pride and Prejudice, arguably the best of these novels.

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As personally we find Austen very re-readable, we’re happy that the next time we read her work it will be this lovely edition.

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It is white outside and summer seems far away. One way to make it feel closer is to look at books from summer holidays, which, for us, tend to be about Paris. Paris Paname by Sébastien Plassard is a charming picture book based on a simple idea of folding pages. When folded they show one scene in a typical Parisian area and when unfolded – another one, sometimes changed quite subtly. Each illustration includes the thrill of  surprise.

It reminds us of games we used to play as children, in which unfolding a piece of paper changed the illustrated story: it has the same joy and inventiveness, although a much more sophisticated color palette than we tended to employ. If you like your books with a little twist, you might enjoy this one.

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