The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend


Old Fashioned, Foldy, Inky Things — Daniel Gray (fellow member of the fictional League of Daniels) interviews Ben Olins and Jane Smillie about creating the wonderful Herb Lester city maps:

Old fashioned, foldy, inky things have personality, something which Google maps and web guides lack. But the limitations of the format also force you to be selective, to only recommend things you genuinely believe to be good. It’s a fallacy that comprehensive listings are useful, when really they’re just confusing – it’s so much easier when someone makes a decision for you.

Collecting / Organizing / Cataloging — Steven Heller interviews Greg D’Onofrio and Patricia Belen of Kind Company about DISPLAY, their wonderful a collection of mid-century modern graphic design books and journals:

For us, one of the primary responsibilities of owning a collection is conducting research about the objects we acquire and finding out how they can far exceed their role as inspirational “eye candy”. The combination of collecting / organizing / cataloging has helped us see new, unique perspectives and discover a greater understanding of many of the principles, ideas and theories we so often admire.

See also: Steven Heller (who is apparently waging a one man occupation of the internet) on graphic designers and hoarding:

Design stuff finds refuge in drawers, on shelves, in boxes; we store it in offices, apartments, dens, living rooms, garages and attics (basements are too easily flooded). Along with lint balls, design stuff is often hiding under the bed. Design stuff is mostly paper, but can also be packaging or points-of-purchase displays—it may be small, medium or large. We hang it on walls and pay considerable amounts to have it framed. Uncontrollably, we hunger and devour it in stores, markets, shows and eBay (damn you, eBay!!). Ravenously, we hunger for and devour bargains, but when they don’t materialize, we pay sizable sums to own the more rare and costly stuff (sometimes realizing we owned it when we were children). In fact, knowing that years ago Mom might have thrown out some potential treasure, we are even more conditioned to hoard anything that could be construed as potentially valuable in the future.

Dead End — Cartoonist Joe Sacco on his most recent book, Footnotes in Gaza, in The Believer:

I think, for me, the book ends up being—this is going to sound strange—a dead end. Because I don’t know where to go from here, except to delve into human psychology. I think I understand how history works. I understand why one people are battling another people. I understand that they both want land. But ultimately there’s a level that I haven’t really got to yet. I’m touching on motive in places, like what makes someone pull a trigger? What makes one person beat another one to death? I know we can dehumanize people. Obviously, that’s the main thing. And I know we can fear them enough that we’d kill them before we think they’re going to kill us. There’s all that going on. But I think I need to go in another direction after this book. What am I going to do after this? Keep detailing massacres? For me, personally, I think I’m not going to get anything out of it anymore. I’ve come to the end of that.

And finally…

Simon Reynolds on his new book Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to its Own Past in The Guardian:

The deeper you venture into the underground, the more music involves pilfering from the past. This is one of the central mysteries that propelled me through the writing of Retromania: how come the very kind of people who would have once been in the vanguard of creating new music (bohemian early adopter types) have switched roles to become antiquarians and curators? In the underground, creativity has become recreativity. The techniques involved are salvage and citation; the sensibility mixes hyper-referential irony with reverent nostalgia.

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  1. I love the design for the East London book cover. Or is it the print quality? Or is it both?

  2. Pingback: Inspiration Board: All Things New | Beautiful Hello

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