The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend


An interview with Toronto based lettering designer Ian Brignell at The Case and Point:

I’m influenced by just about everything, but I especially like the work that was done on packages from the 19th and early 20th century. I also enjoy amateur hand-lettered signs, since they often contain very quirky and original details that I would never think of. I have to mention that during college I saw a book with some examples of Herb Lubalin’s lettering work, and this was one of the moments that really made me want to pursue lettering for a living.

All Things Considered — An interview with Nate Burgos about his Rare Book Feast video project:

I enjoy writing about anyone and anything which interest me on my design-related blog, an all-people-and-things-considered destination. Then there’s tweeting, lots of it. Twitter is newsprint. Designer Lorraine Wild said, “You have to be interested in culture to design for it.”

Dull But DurableThe Guardian‘s Justin McGuirk on Soviet design and a new book on the subject called Made in Russia by Michael Idov:

There were some genuinely classic designs… The Lomo camera, with its super-saturated film, is still hugely popular in an otherwise digital world. The avos shopping bag, essentially a string vest with handles, was ubiquitous and remains far preferable to plastic bags, just as the collapsible portable cup is preferable to millions of plastic and polystyrene ones. The ribbed drinking glass, meanwhile, and the Saturna and Raketa vacuum cleaners, simply lasted for ever. We may mock Soviet design, but there are lessons to heed from it. Durability, for one. In our disposable culture, rapid replacement cycles have almost inured us to the idea that nothing lasts. Such is the price, apparently, of free enterprise and consumer choice.

Secretly Young — John le Carré’s keynote speech at the Think German Conference earlier this month (via Bookslut):

I was young when I started writing about George Smiley — twenty-eight — and Smiley was already old, a proxy father. But Smiley’s journey through the novel, despite his age, is the journey of a young man’s self-discovery. Underneath his inconspicuous exterior, he is a sensitive man still growing up, still looking for answers, and for the experience that delivers them.

In short: he is secretly young.

And Smiley’s private journey — from this first novel, right through to his last — for me at least, with the advantage of hindsight and no longer the responsibility of writing about him — is a single Bildungsroman that leads him through disappointments, mistaken loves, failures and occasional successes, to some kind of ultimate maturity: that is to say, to the point when he discovers that the object of his life’s search is neither the absolute enemy of his imagination, nor the absolute answer to his quest.

See also: Tom McCarthy, talks about his novels Remainder and C, and his life in Prague and Berlin before becoming a published writer, at The Days of Yore:

Your book is being held up as, you know, avant-garde, or as an anti-novel, or as anti-realist… None of these seem quite right. My understanding of the avant-garde is as a historical thing, it had a moment and it has an implication for now, but it’s almost like saying, “Are you leading the French revolution?” “No!” [Laughs.] If you pay too much attention, then when you sit down to write you’ve been primed to think: “Okay, so I’m being avant-garde; how do I be avant-garde?”

I don’t know exactly where I’m going next, but I don’t think it’ll be anything that blatantly looks either avant-garde or not avant-garde or realist or not realist.

And finally, seeing as it’s Friday…

A Pixaresque animated homage to the late Dave Stevens to mark the 20th anniversary of the film adaptation of his comic The Rocketeer:

(via Robot 6)

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