One of the most influential art books ever written gets a 21st century update thanks to Yale University Press, which has released an iPad app version of Josef Albers‘s Interaction of Color. First published fifty years ago, the classic tome is an essential guide to thinking creatively about color. The app includes the full text along with more than 125 of the original color studies, including the “flaps” and moving pieces that have made them so captivating to generations of students. After experimenting with color and finding solutions to Albers’s famous problems, you can play with the new color palette tool and watch interviews with leading designers and artists explaining how they use color in their work.
For the past two and a half years, Designers & Books has been offering illuminating glimpses into the bookshelves and reading lives of designers ranging from David Adjaye to Eva Zeisel. The website that launched many a book-buying binge has just unveiled a redesign by Studio Kudos, with a host of new ways to browse and view the 170 lists and 1,700 listed books (and counting!), more frequent infusions of fresh editorial content (in partnership with Superscript), and even bigger plans for the future.
“One of the main things the site now stands for is the immense generosity of the design community,” founder and editor-in-chief Steve Kroeter tells us. “We ask world-renowned designers to take time out from their impossible schedules to talk to us about books—and they do it. Amazing!” Among the lists to watch for in the weeks to come are those of Anna Sui, Phyllis Lambert, Andre Leon Talley, and Michael Rock. In the meantime, we asked Kroeter to tell us more about the origins of Designers & Books, what’s next for the site, and of course, what’s on his reading list.
What led you to create Designers & Books?
Over the years I’ve visited many design studios, and one thing I’ve noticed about them all—whether it was an architect’s office or that of a fashion designer or graphic designer—is that books are always everywhere. Whether neatly shelved or scattered about randomly, books are everywhere. When you ask why, you find that designers look to books as sources of inspiration. Books to designers are fuel for creativity, innovation, and invention.
Given the widespread interest these days in creativity, it occurred to me that if I could get well known and respected designers to share the list of books that had inspired them, then there might be an idea in that, that could be developed. Books as a reliable and powerful source of inspiration for creativity—for the design community, yes. But also for everyone in general.
What are some of your favorite elements of the redesigned site?
When we started the site in 2011 just about all we did was book lists. Pretty quickly, though, we began to add many other features—which on the one hand was great, but it also made it increasingly difficult for site visitors to easily see what was new. Our updated design highlights what’s new in a clean, easy way and also neatly shows the full range of what we now offer.
In terms of specific features, we’ve launched what we believe is the first-ever best-seller list for design books—based on sales from 10 top design booksellers (with more to be added soon). We are also working with Debbie Millman on a special series of Design Matters podcasts with authors of design books. The first four of the series are now featured on the new site.
Once upon a time, creating signage involved more than Microsoft Word, 72-point Comic Sans, and an inkjet printer. Everything from storefronts to street signs were hand-lettered—with brush and paint. But all is not lost. Even as staid (and quick-and-dirty DIY) signage proliferates, there’s a revival afoot in traditional sign painting. Dedicated practitioners get their close-up in Faythe Levine and Sam Macon‘s Sign Painters, published last fall by Princeton Architectural Press. But with a subject as scintillating as hand-lettered signage, why stop at a book? The anecdotal history of the craft and stories of sign painters working in cities throughout the United States comes to the big screen in a documentary that is now making the rounds (next up: screenings in Orlando, New York, and Seattle). The trailer is bound to inspire you to drop that die-cut vinyl lettering:
“In my project Miracles et Cie (2002) I settle my scores with the supernatural. My images are an ironic homage to the touching facet of the history of photography, which has been used to fake the presence of ghosts and spirits: In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many crooks used photography’s powers of persuasion to ‘demonstrate’ their paranormal powers. But this work’s critical objective consists of an outrageous reflection on how the current whirlpool of beliefs, cults, rituals, and superstitions has set us adrift. Here, by using conjuring effects, photography becomes the document of the illusion.”
Pictured: Joan Fontcuberta, “The Miracle of Dolphinsurfing” (2002)
The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century Architecture and The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture are inspiring sourcebooks for the ages, but as with many authoritative, lushly illustrated volumes, it is impossible to fit them in one’s pocket, unless one has very special pants. Fear not, culture-conscious traveler, because Phaidon has just released The Phaidon Architecture Travel Guide App, an iPhone- or iPad-ready resource that’s yours for $3.99 from the iTunes store. With some 1,500 projects from 840 architectural practices (cherrypicked from both atlases), the app can be browsed by location, project, practice, and building type. Plus, the bookmarking options make it easy to create a “To See” list of architecture marvels around the globe. And travelers, take heart: no Wi-Fi or 3G is required to run the app.
Got an app we should know about? Drop us a line at unbeige [at] mediabistro.com
We hate to fly and yet love airplanes. We eschew airplane food yet can spend hours happily discussing the EPCOT-y optimism of the curvy blue plastic silverware favored by Icelandair, the smart lighting choices (and kooky liveries) of Virgin America, or the evolution of Delta’s increasingly unhinged pre-flight safety video. We wish that the short-lived dramatic series Pan Am had not been grounded after one season. And so it is with nostalgia for a “golden age of air travel” that we never actually experienced—and yet can get an intoxicating whiff of in the streamlined, space-age-polymer forms of Marc Newson—that we anticipate Keith Lovegrove‘s Airline: Style at 30,000 Feet, out next month from Laurence King. Charting a course through interior design and fashion (pass the Pucci), technicolor food, and logos a-go-go, the book shows how airborne culture has changed from the 1920s to today’s sweatpants-and-flip-flops milieu. Here’s a cinematic sneak peek made by Lovegrove and Andrew Lennox:
It’s the summer of Sendak here in New York, with the Society of Illustrators celebrating the beloved children’s book artist, who died last year at the age of 83, with an exhibit of more than 200 never-before-seen Sendak originals (on view through August 17). Over at the New York Public Library, “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter” exhibition (on view through March 2014) devotes an entire wall to a giant, furry, and unmistakable silhouette of one of the “Wild Things” encountered and conquered by young Max. We scoured the gorgeous Abrams book that accompanies the former exhibition—and particularly the chapter contributed by children’s book expert Leonard S. Marcus, who happens to have curated the latter show—to bring you this handful of fun facts.
1. Sendak honed his drawing skills at a young age, while looking out from the window of his family’s Brooklyn apartment and “making endless sketches of the children playing in the streets below,” writes Marcus in Maurice Sendak: A Celebration of the Artist and His Work, “drawings that recorded not only the children’s body language and facial expressions but also their emotional weather.”
2. He skipped college and went right from high school to a job as the assistant window decorator at FAO Schwarz on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
3. Sendak’s close friend and editor Ursula Nordstrom, who Marcus describes as “America’s most daring publisher of books for young people,” planned early on to pair Sendak with Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Moon), but she died suddenly in 1952 at the age of 42 before the two could even meet, much less collaborate.
When the good people at David Zwirner e-mailed us with news of the New York gallery’s fourth annual summer pop-up bookstore, we briefly considered keeping the news to ourselves, so great is our
obsession with admiration for many artists in the Zwirner stable (Luc Tuymans! Marlene Dumas! Lisa Yuskavage!). Somehow, we’ve managed to suppress our selfish impulses to let you know that for two weeks only—Monday, July 22 through Friday, August 2—Zwirner will offer up deals galore on a selection of rare and out-of-print books, signed artist catalogues, DVDs, and more. The David Zwirner Pop-Up Bookstore, hosted with ARTBOOK | D.A.P., will be open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and you know we’ll be there bright and early to ensure first dibs on anything and everything related to Michaël Borremans. OK, and we’ll probably hoard all the Neo Rauch stuff, too. Because all’s fair in love and pop-up bookstores.
Santiago Calatrava is a whiz with bridges and transit hubs—his latest is Italy’s Stazione di Bologna e Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana, a high-speed train station that debuted last month and allows passengers to zip to Milano faster than you can say “Stazione di Bologna e Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana”—but did you know that he is also an accomplished painter, sculptor, and designer of things that cannot be categorized as infrastructure? The full, undulating, cantilevered spectrum of his talents will be revealed in the pages of Santiago Calatrava, coming this fall.
The new book is an Assouline production, which means that while there will be text (in this case, by Christina Carrillo de Albornoz Fisac, who will consider Calatrava’s references, influences, and inspirations) but it will only come into focus after you’ve spent hours ogling the lush, sure-to-be-full-bleed illustrations—all 180 of them. Of course, that’s even assuming that you can bring yourself to unwrap the hand-bound edition, which will come tucked inside a shiny box (pictured) designed by Calatrava himself.
“I was sixteen when I traveled with my family for the first time to bella Italia. As I recall, immediately upon arriving in Milan, in the haze of jet lag and the oppressive July heat, I was struck by a billboard featuring an art nouveau rendering of a couple in a passionate embrace against an inky night sky, with just the words Baci and Perugina. I knew that baci meant kisses, though I didn’t even know what product this advertised. It didn’t matter. The woman was clearly in a swoon, and so was I. This was the pivotal moment when I fell in love all at once with Italy, type, and food. Whenever I see the iconic Baci package (though it has been ruthlessly updated over the years), it still makes me smile.”