A few images snapped over the holiday period for no other reason than they either amused or caught my eye in the moment.
An unusually overt presentation of a very discreet business.
With all those Christmas present delivered even he needs to stop and take stock.
One of London’s prettiest shops. It has been trading since 1830 and surviving in this super fast digital age. I can vouch for the quality of their umbrellas. I’ve had one for 25 years and it’s still perfect.
Richard Seifert’s much reassessed Space House in Kemble Street, Kingsway London.
And this rather sad sight while I was waiting in A&E at Weymouth hostpital. An imate from Portland prison.
Yesterday was bright and sunny in London, momentarily distracting me from the gloom and sadness of world events. So it was good to walk around in the warmth of sun. As I did I noticed that so many people were well, just not here. It was a combination of being glued to their mobiles or texting as the made their way, often walking straight into the road oblivious to the oncoming traffic, while others were just in deep in thought. No one seemed to be aware of the world around them. But I was, every step of the way. Here’s what I saw…
What were they thinking - a typographical walk?
This was not London but Bruges. I tend to snap away wherever I am.
This long gone sign writer's work is still in daily use.
What goes on here?
So this is where he is.
Look up and see our typographical past.
Gill Sans, 70 odd years on and still beautiful.
Even scrappy doorways can be beautiful.
This is not London but Barcelona and lovely with it.
One of my favourite haunts is second hand bookshops. By that I mean the cavernous type with myriads of passages - the sort that one can take in a packed lunch, thermos and sleeping bag and spend days there without being bothered.
These book purgatories, where volumes sit quietly awaiting their fate have always held great fascination for me because one can revel in the design evolution of the book cover, jacket, or wrapper – whatever you want to call them – in a series of geological like strata right in front of you. There nestled between orange spined Penguins of the Tschichold and Smhmoller period rubbing shoulders with Faber & Faber paperbacks sporting covers by Berthold Wolpe, Herbert Bayer and McKnight Kauffer. All of the stylistic shifts of time become visible. It is the book cover more than anything else that one can see the effect and importance of those shifts in design. All of the ‘isms’ are present.
Over the past few years the reissuing of many old Penguins have been metamorphosed into the ‘Great Ideas’ series design. They are pure exercises in the styles of earlier times. All lovingly crafted by their creators to capture a kind of cosy literary nostalgia. They have become ‘cool’ objects to nochalantly flaunt when reading in the park, café, or on the bus or tube...
Only time will tell if they will contribute to the story of book cover design. What it does confirm is the fact that design is an endless merry-go-round that regurgitates itself at regular intervals. But for every well considered, intelligent and often beautiful cover, there are a dozens of crass, insulting, vulgar travesties, visually polluting our life.
One of my regular second hand book repositories is Skoob Books at the Brunswick centre in WC2...
Not only do I always find the book I am looking for there, but I often have the surprise of finding an old friend lurking there on a lonely shelf. This is a beautiful example…
The Corgi Modern Reading series published in the mid 60’s were designed by Corgi’s then art director John Piper and illustrated by the very talented Ken Sequin. I think they still hold up beautifully. If anyone has the rest in the series I’d love to post them.
The other great second hand bookshop is Shakespeare and Company and can be found in Paris at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris.
It is the most eccentric place with beds blocking some of the labarynthian passageways on which the student staff sleep at night.
And when you purchase your book is rubber stamped with Shakespeare and Company’s charming little logo...
Well worth whilinga couple of hours when in Paris. For Skoob Books click here. For more about Shakespeare and Company click here.