Book: ’I Wonder’ by graphic artist Marian Bantjes

The cover of ’I Wonder’, 2010, by Marian Bantjes.
The cover of 'I Wonder', 2010, by Marian Bantjes has a hardbound black satin finish, foil stamped in gold and silver. Published in the UK
(Image credit: Thames & Hudson)

'I Wonder' is a gilt-edged new tome from Marian Bantjes, combining graphic art with her lesser-known skills as a writer. On its elaborately ornamented pages, the Wallpaper* contributor (and designer of a Laser sailboat for Wallpaper* Handmade, W*137) looks at the role of wonder in design and imagery, through an eccentric mix of musings, personal anecdotes and what she, herself, calls 'harebrained ideas'.

A chapter exploring how we honour things that resonate with us, illustrated by ornamental pasta, is swiftly followed by a look at the experience of the 'really ugly' signage in her home town of Saskatoon, Canada. These rich, playful and often funny pages are wrapped in an aptly indulgent, gold and silver foil cover.

Images from the ’Cemeteries’ chapter.

Images from the 'Cemeteries' chapter, which serves as a pictorial interlude, wherein a view of cemetery portraits speak to the book's recurring themes of wonder, honour and memory, p.098 & 099

(Image credit: Thames & Hudson)

The 'secrets' chapter

The 'Secrets' chapter pushes the limits of legibility and ultimately breaks those limits when it prints actual secrets in encoded text, p.112 & 113

(Image credit: Thames & Hudson)

The ’1 Sign 4 All’ chapter.

The '1 Sign 4 All' chapter addresses the ugly signage on display in the author's home town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, p.100 & 101

(Image credit: Thames & Hudson)

’Secrets’ chapter use gold encoded text.

Pages from the 'Secrets' chapter use gold encoded text, p.116 & 117

(Image credit: Thames & Hudson)

Alphabet’ chapter.

In the 'Alphabet' chapter, Bantjes amusingly and profanely critiques the 'design' of the alphabet, commenting on the efforts and motives of a team of imaginary designers, p.122 &123

(Image credit: Thames & Hudson)

Graphics from the ’Alphabet’ chapter

Graphics from the 'Alphabet' chapter, p.128 & 129

(Image credit: Thames & Hudson)

Assembling Two IKEA Bookshelves

The 6-page chapter 'Assembling Two IKEA Bookshelves' shows the progress, frustrations, distractions and asides involved in spending an afternoon assembling two Ikea bookshelves, p.142 & 143

(Image credit: Thames & Hudson)

’Memory 2: Notes on a Life’ is based on the author’s eulogy for her mother.

The chapter 'Memory 2: Notes on a Life' is based on the author's eulogy for her mother, as it examines a life as represented by the handwritten remains of hundreds of 'To Do' lists, p.174 & 175

(Image credit: Thames & Hudson)

Malaika Byng is an editor, writer and consultant covering everything from architecture, design and ecology to art and craft. She was online editor for Wallpaper* magazine for three years and more recently editor of Crafts magazine, until she decided to go freelance in 2022. Based in London, she now writes for the Financial Times, Metropolis, Kinfolk and The Plant, among others.