Designers & Books, in collaboration with the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York and the Mart, the Museum of modern and contemporary art of Trento and Rovereto, Italy, is launching a Kickstarter campaign on October 18 to publish a new facsimile edition of Depero Futurista, the 1927 monograph of Italian Futurist Fortunato Depero. Famously bound by two industrial aluminum bolts, “The Bolted Book” is full of typographic experimentation and widely recognized as a masterpiece of avant-garde book-making.
At the project’s website you can see each of the book’s (amazing) 240 pages in detail, read translations from the original Italian and annotations of selected texts, and learn more about Depero’s life and work.
I’m a little late to work of Welsh novelist Cynan Jones, but I recently finished reading his award-winning 2014 novel The Dig, and it’s not hard to see what all the fuss is about. The writing is beautifully spare and intimate, and the story is devastating.1
The stark, illustrated cover of The Dig and Jones’s earlier books, recently republished by Granta, also caught my eye. The striking designs are, it turns out, by the brilliant Australian designer Jenny Grigg, which seems obvious once you know. Her previous covers for Peter Carey and Ernest Hemingway have similarly bold simplicity and tone.
Grigg has also designed the cover of Jones’s new novel, The Cove, which will be published by Granta in November.
The Dig by Cynan Jones; design Jenny Grigg
Everything I Found on the Beach by Cynan Jones; design Jenny Grigg
When Los Angeles-based designer Jonathan Olivares first met Richard Sapper in 2008 in Milan, Sapper’s adopted home, he put it more bluntly: Why black?
“I expected him to come back with a hardcore minimalist modernist objective,” says Olivares who, like Sapper, has designed for Knoll. But Sapper said something different. “Black looks good in all kinds of interiors: old interiors, messy interiors, a clean modern interior. It ages really well. It doesn’t look dirty. You don’t see the seams. He told me, Next time, look at a white car and look at a black car. On a white car you see all the joints.” Sapper told two different stories about the shape of the ThinkPad. One is that he was inspired by the cigar box, the other by the bento box. In either case, a deceptively dark, plain exterior opens to a world of flavor. The red nub is either a beautiful cigar wrapper or a nice piece of tuna. It’s such a practical explanation it takes a moment to sink in. It’s as if this product designer knew your life…
…Sapper lived with multitudes and made multitudes, and his idea of the future didn’t involve getting rid of everything past, whether personal or visual. Technology, in his world, could co-exist with sentiment and age. To the end, he was still trying to invent a lamp for people who couldn’t hardwire to the ceiling above their tables. It was based on a fishing rod. That was the kind of “perching” that was of interest to him.
The last time I saw Jean I was going home from work, had just passed through the turnstile at the 57th Street BMT station. We spotted each other, he at the bottom of the stairs, me at the top. As he climbed I witnessed a little silent movie. He stopped briefly at the first landing, whipped out a marker and rapidly wrote something on the wall, then went up to the second landing, where two cops emerged from a recess and collared him. I kept going.
A month later he was famous and I never saw him again. We no longer traveled in the same circles. I was happy for him, but then it became obvious he was flaming out at an alarming pace. I heard stories of misery and excess, the compass needle flying around the dial, a crash looming. When he died I mourned, but it seemed inevitable, as well as a symptom of the times, the wretched Eighties. He was a casualty in a war—a war that, by the way, continues. Years later I needed money badly and undertook to sell the Basquiat productions I own, but got no takers, since they were too early, failed to display the classic Basquiat look. I’m glad it turned out that way.
Ed Ruscha: Buildings and Words is a short documentary, commissioned by MOCA in Los Angeles, exploring two of the recurring themes in the artist’s work. It was written and directed by Felipe Lima, and is narrated by Owen Wilson:
Apparently Ruscha calls his font ‘Boy Scout Utility Modern’, which immediately makes me wonder if Wes Anderson is a fan.
you go to the editorial meeting and you hear the editors talk about the book. After that, you tell your art director which books you want to work on, and sometimes she would suggest stuff to us. You didn’t always get the book that you wanted, but you kind of had an idea. But sometimes it doesn’t go that way. Like for Dave Eggers. No one wanted to take his book! He has very specific taste. But I was like, “Fuck it! I’ll do it.” Because when am I going to be able to design for Dave Eggers again?! And it went really well, actually. One round and it was done, which never happens [laughs]… normally, it’s a battle. You want to try and see what will get through. So you’re like, “Well I’m only going to show three things, because if I show more…” Like for example, for All Our Names, we only showed one. I’d made a bunch of other options, but Peter Mendelsund, who was art directing was like, “Nope. Let’s just show this one”… Sometimes it works like that. But I mean, for another project, I came up with 20 different ideas, and nothing came of it. It was a paperback and they just ended up adapting the hard cover.
The Rumpus interviews Will Evans the founder and publisher of Deep Vellum, an independent small press focused on works in translation based in Dallas, TX:
I’m very new to this, and I’m most definitely an outsider. I don’t really know how other people do their editing process. I’ve never worked in a publishing house with an editing team that they have to run stuff by. I’m curious, editorially it has somehow happened that Deep Vellum books are quite different from Open Letter books and quite different from Archipelago books and I don’t really know how or why that happens. We all just love stories and want to bring them to different audiences, but at the end of the day, the books that we need to publish that fit our brand are all kind of different, and that’s amazing to me. I love independent publishers because you get that more personal aesthetic choice.
The Mountain and the Wall by Alisa Ganieva; design by Anna Zylicz (Deep Vellum / June 2015)
One for the letterpress obsessives and tool aficionados, The Last Punchcutter is a beautiful, wordless film capturing Giuseppe Brachino — who was the head of the engraving department of the Nebiolo Company from Turin — hand-cut a punch for metal type: