The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend


Dieter Rams book by graphic design graduate Daniel Bartha:

This project was a book I created around the ten most important principles for what Dieter Rams considered was good design. Taking on board these elements myself, I took away as much as I could from his unique designs but to still leave them instantly recognisable.

And since I seem to be on a German theme this week…

Nabokov in Berlin — An essay by Lesley Chamberlain in Standpoint magazine:

As consumerism and Hitler rose together so Nabokov treated totalitarian politics principally as aesthetically repugnant. It was “another beastliness starting to megaphone” in Germany which in 1937 drove him and his half-Jewish wife Vera to leave Berlin for France and the US. It was almost too late. Berlin suited him. The anti-totalitarian novels Bend Sinister (1947) and Invitation to a Beheading (1938) which followed were remarkable, particularly the latter, for not insisting that totalitarianism’s victims were moral heroes, only men of taste. Nabokov, who saw in art the possibility of redemption, was tempted to think taste ruled out evil.

And from Germany, to France (via Norway)…

Master of Understatement — Douglas Wolk, author of Reading Comics, on Jason’s Werewolves of Montpellier:

[I]t’s possible to describe [Werewolves of Montpellier] by saying it’s a low-key domestic drama, with a Harold Pinter play’s worth of portentous silences, about a bored, disenchanted young man who’s in hopelessly in love with his lesbian best friend. Or you can say it’s about a jewel thief who discovers a secret cabal of werewolves. It’s true that you have to pay attention to catch the details: the fact that Jason draws everyone with animal heads makes it a little bit harder to read some of the characters’ interactions. But maybe Jason’s central joke is that you have to take extreme measures to create certain kinds of drama when a lot of the time people aren’t feeling anything in particular.

Techland also have  an exclusive preview of the book.

See also: The Beat’s review of Werewolves of Montpellier

Werewolves of Montpellier is about an art student/thief who dresses up as a werewolf before he goes out to break into people’s homes at night, which a society of actual werewolves is not amused about.

What that boils down to on the page, though, are scenes of people sitting next to each other at the laundromat, looking at each other in silence or talking about French actresses while playing chess—and each time, it’s utterly fascinating, and the scene draws you in almost immediately and you don’t want to stop.

Jason tells stories with comics in ways that never occur to a lot of people who make comics.

From Europe to Asia…

An Obsolete Practice — idsgn considers the end of movable type in China. Fascinating stuff:

The invention of movable type in China developed with Gutenberg’s mechanical press and hot type-metal, proved to have widespread and lasting success in Europe. But in practice, it was not suitable for Chinese—a language with over 45,000 unique characters. Typesetting in Chinese took “minding p’s and q’s” to a whole new level, and accuracy was challenging when characters were essentially compounds of many radicals and ideograms. Running a Chinese letterpress shop required an enormous storage space and basic literacy of at least 4,000 commonly used characters.

And on a strangely similar note…

Rudy Lehman’s Incredible Linotype Letterpress (via Coudal).

Have a great weekend!

Rudy Lehman’s Incredible Linotype LetterpressRudy Lehman’s Incredible Linotype Letterpress

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