Our June book edit is all about expanding horizons. This season, we give you a chance to embrace contemporary modular design, discover the history of Spitalfields printmakers Baddeley Brothers and even learn Chinese via the forgiving illustrations of Noma Bar.
We're also hitting the architecture books, with an exploration of Studio Olafur Eliasson's career to date and telling tales of tomorrow through Gestalten's coffee-table slab on modernism. For good measure, we've treated you to a fast-paced tour of Paul Smith's extensive cycling memorabilia collection. Whether you're studying diligently or just fancy a browse, you can find it all here...Photography: Michael Ainscough
By ShaoLan Hsueh
One of the most delightful and accessible ways into a complex foreign culture, the first Chineasy book came out in 2014. Combining pictograms with Chinese characters, author and designer ShaoLan Hsueh set out the basic structure of the language, explored the evolutions beneath it and set words, phrases and structures within modern Chinese culture. The new Everyday book divides language up into sections like travel, food and drink, and numbers and dates, making this a graphic education that teaches by stealth.
Published by Thames & Hudson, £19.95Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: the linguistic journey begins with the basics, like the calendar. Unlike the western world's Gregorian calendar, the Chinese iteration is based on lunar cycles. Illustration: Noma Bar
Originally, the symbols for left and right (seen here embedded into a road sign) represented the characters for 'left hand' and 'right hand'. Illustration: Noma Bar
Pictured left: the 'equals' character is cleverly illustrated by a pair of weighing scales. Right: it's clear to see how the shorter, slanted strokes of the character for 'heart', illustrated here, represent the main arteries. Illustration: Noma Bar
Unspoken Spaces: Studio Olafur Eliasson
By Olafur Eliasson
Olafur Eliasson’s work is designed to be experienced. Perhaps mindful of the limitations of print, the artist and his studio have pulled out the stops to create Unspoken Spaces, the first monograph on his work in a decade. Photography is paired with drawings and a variety of paper stocks in an effort to communicate the sensory overload and structural gymnastics of a typical Eliasson piece. Of course, the point is that there are no typical projects here, and interventions range from pavilions and bridges through to private installations and experiential artworks. A section on unrealised projects emphasises the rigour of the creative process, as does the documentation on those projects that no longer exist, except in memory.
Published by Thames & Hudson, £60Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: the monograph opens with a series of arresting photographs of jumbled Eliasson-esque shapes and objects, where the camera is submerged in the action – setting the in-depth tone for the rest of the book
Eliasson's 5-dimensionel pavilion from 1998 explores fivefold symmetry. Located at Strandparken in Holbæk, Denmark, the immersive piece is mathematically made up of five sets of parallel lines following the golden ratio. Photography: Noshe. Courtesy Olafur Eliasson
Eliasson intersperses the imagery and essays with concise anecdotes and musings on each project. On this page he notes, 'With Cirkelbroen [bridge], I want to tell a story about what happened beyond Copenhagen's prominent waterfront.' Pictured: Cirkelbroen, by Olafur Eliasson, 2015; a gift from Nordea-fonden to the city of Copenhagen, on the Christianshavns Kanal. Photography: Anders Sune Berg. Courtesy Olafur Eliasson
Olafur Eliasson and Einar Thorsteinn's 'Model room' (detail), 2003. Photography: Jennifer Hauger and Kathrine Holm / Studio Olafur Eliasson. Courtesy Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Copyright Olafur Eliasson and Einar Thorsteinn
The Tale of Tomorrow: Utopian Architecture in the Modernist Realm
Edited by Sofia Borges and Gestalten
You can weave almost any narrative you like from the history of 20th century architecture. The Tale of Tomorrow does exactly that, mining the story of ‘retro-futurism’ out of the rich visual archives of contemporary design. These are the buildings and concepts that exuded confidence in tomorrow and eschewed any link with the past. Their bold forms, colours and structures set them apart at the time of their construction, whether it’s the Villa Savoye, the Sydney Opera House or the bizarre sculpted steel house of the late Robert Bruno. However, presented as an ensemble, with a cascade of period imagery (and fashions), and the sense of lost utopia tugs at the heart strings.
Published by Gestalten, €49.90Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: the unexpectedly glamorous Glen Harder House in Mountain Lake, Minnesota, combined curvaceous forms and rustic materials. The Midwestern home, by architect Bruce Goff, burned to ashes in a fire and little remains today
Les Arcades du Lac marked Ricardo Bofill's first major completed project in France. The six monolithic apartment towers operate together as their own independent residential island, dramatically overlooking an artificial lake on the outskirts of Paris
Providing low-income families with shelter for more than four decades, Ricardo Bofill's Walden 7 is a giant futuristic housing microcosm, built in Barcelona's western hemisphere
Rethinking the Modular: Adaptable Systems in Architecture and Design
Edited by Burkhard Meltzer and Tido von Oppeln
Modular design was one of the lost dreams of modernism; the idea that architecture and interiors could be broken down into a series of interchangeable elements was the driving force behind many careers. Using the 1960s system developed by the architect Fritz Haller and engineer Paul Schärer for Swiss office furniture maker USM as a springboard, Meltzer and von Oppeln’s book investigates the more esoteric projects of the area and the future of the modular in contemporary design.
Published by Thames & Hudson, £24.95Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: in an interview with designers Bless and Marlene Oeken, it is revealed that Bless' 'Workout Computer' is the ultimate dream tool for everyday office work, balancing mental and physical fatigue equally. Pictured: 'Workout Computer', by Bless, 2010 (photographed Milan 2015)
J Mayer H Architects' Metropol Parasol in Seville is the ultimate example of modular thinking in terms of construction. It is, as Jürgen Mayer H writes, an 'organic shape that had to be broken down into smaller elements, or modules, for prefabrication'. Pictured: Metropol Parasol, by J Mayer H Architects, 2011
Fritz Haller's furniture system for USM is one of the great icons of 20th-century design history. The modularity of Haller's USM system was so radical that it could be applied to every aspect of an environment, from individual objects to the structure of walls and ceilings. Pictured: director's office, Haller USM system, 1976
By The Gentle Author
Specialists evolved because the commonplace changed; it’s a sobering thought to consider that the craft, skill and beautiful output of Baddeley Brothers Printers was simply how print used to be throughout the land. We lost a lot when book printing was outsourced to the Far East and the humble pamphlet could be whipped up on a wonky inkjet in a matter of seconds. Dating back to the 1820s, Baddeley Brothers is a business built on craft, still in family hands and still producing exquisitely tactile print, specialising in diecut and embossing. Designed by David Pearson, and replete with tipped in samples of print, this book celebrates a family firm, a surviving industry and the love of pure design.
Published by Spitalfields Life Books, £20Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: JJ Baddeley's logo design from when he was a die-sinker in the 1920s. 'These were very strenuous and hard working times,' he noted of his 12-hour days
In 1946, the company moved to 92–94 Paul Street in Shoreditch, leaving their temporary premises in Bishopsgate, where they had operated after the destruction of the Moor Lane factory in the London Blitz. Pictured: Baddeley Brothers at IPEX (International Print Exhibition), 1958
The book is dedicated to 'the many engravers, die-sinkers, envelope makers and other talented people with whom we have had the privilege to collaborate over the last two hundred years' – pictured are a number of the emblems and names of said collaborators, displayed at the book's close
Paul Smith’s Cycling Scrapbook
By Paul Smith with Richard Williams
Britain’s foremost fashion designer’s love of two-wheeled travel is well chronicled – he even collaborated on a bicycle with Rapha for Wallpaper* Handmade. The ‘cycling scrapbook’ turns Smith’s magpie eye on the imagery and ephemera of competitive cycling and bike design, presenting the same sort of classy collage that adorns the walls of his stores. Cycling offers a rich vein of visual imagery, as well as the technical wonders that are the bikes themselves, and the scrapbook includes profiles of the early heroes of the Tour through to the best contemporary exponents of the sport.
Published by Thames & Hudson, £29.95Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: scraps of Smith's cycling heroes and their achievements on paper are displayed as a montage in the opening pages
The tome notes the interesting graphic design that features on old cycling publications. Pictured left: an advertisement poster for BSA (British Small Arms). Right: examples of archaic cycling publications
Smith's collection of cycling sweaters and t-shirts keeps growing; he donated a hefty handful to the Design Museum's 'Cycle Revolution' exhibition in 2015. Pictured: vintage cycling jerseys
'I'm lucky enough to have been given lots of bikes,' Smith explains. 'There's a pale blue bike [pictured] with an unusually shaped frame, with double tubing, which was sent to me from Australia by the man who'd made it'
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