InBox 003 — How To Make Flowers

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Published:  February 22, 2013
Heath Killen
InBox 003 — How To Make Flowers

InBox is a new regular feature that is dedicated to sharing some of the great stuff that we get sent from all over the world. It contains short reviews of books, magazines, records, movies, products, and other design ephemera.

If you have something you’d like us to take a look at, please don’t hesitate to post it or email the details to us first.

After a brief pause over the last fornight, we’re back this week to take a look at a new publication that compiles four years worth of content from GRAPHIC magazine, a book on Japanese architecture, an experimental text on design lectures that comes to us from the UK, and a luxurious photo album of flower arrangements.

TEXTS: GRAPHIC 2007—2011

This is a jam packed (and heavy) anthology of essays, interviews, and articles on design that has been complied from 20 issues (4 years worth) of the Korean based GRAPHIC magazine. It’s entirely monochromatic and features very little in the way of images, but it does provide a wealth of reading material on emergent design theory and practice.

Just as the magazine is set in both Korean and English so too is the book, and the design by Shin Dongheyok is extremely well considered. The dense content is made readable thanks to a thoughtful and unfussy layout, and the noticeably soft feel of the paper stock is a nice touch too. The book is bound with a sturdy hardback cover, which itself comes wrapped in a semi-transparent sleeve. Cleverly, the book’s thick spine has been designed to look like the spines of the 20 issues of the magazine that the content is sourced from.

As a completely independent publication, GRAPHIC has been able to explore issues outside of the mainstream media, and it has done so in a more investigative, journalistic way than most. It’s also a genuinely internationally magazine, and gathers its stories from right across the globe. TEXTS is essential reading for anyone who wants to gain a deeper insight into what’s been happening on the cutting edge of the industry, and to understand the many different perspectives and practices that make up present day design culture. Highly recommended.

How To Make A Japanese House

“Simplicity is the result of a concentration of ideas, and not about leaving out ideas”. This quote from designers Makoto Takei & Chie Nabeshima (featured on page #199) nicely sums up the themes and subject matter of this excellent release from editor Cathelijne Nuijsink and publisher NAi.

How To Make A Japanese House is a largely architectural book – but one that examines philosophical issues as much it does design. The case studies within demonstrate new possibilities for harmonious living spaces when the physical space available for building is significantly limited. These houses absolutely transcend their limitations by pushing form and creating incredible spatial illusions. They also explore a particular approach to minimalism that is infused with craftsmanship and fine detail. As the quote above suggests, it’s not just about reduction but the considered use of materials and design ideas to achieve extraordinary results – regardless of what constraints are in place.

Featuring plenty of images (including floor plans) and in-depth interviews, this book provides valuable insights into the specific culture of Japanese design, as well as the ways in which design can be used to create beautiful solutions for very contemporary problems.

The Democratic Lecture

Kudos to Craig Oldham. Not only is he tackling an important issue that is rarely discussed in the broader design community (the lecture) but his new book has by far the thickest stock of any publication that I’ve encountered.

The content is based on an interactive project developed by Oldham, where he created a website that allows his students to vote on subjects they’d like to see explored in the classroom. It’s a simple but powerful idea, and the way it works is that the top five topics that get voted up (from a possible 40, on a range of divergent issues) become part of the lecture series.

This newly published book contains information on all 40 topics – including collaboration, conversation, self-expression, and profanity. Oldham’s chapter titles and essays are far more interesting than my prosaic descriptions may suggest though, with Blood on the Macs being a good example of the irreverent tone carried throughout.  The Democratic Lecture is intended to be a teaching aid and accompaniment to Oldham’s particular teaching program, but it contains food for thought for all designers and educators – often printed in enormous fluro green letters too.

Encyclopedia of Flowers

Encyclopedia of Flowers his is an exquisite new release from Lars Müller. It features very little in the way of text,  and instead focuses almost entirely on the foral arrangements of Makoto Azuma, which have been lovingly photographed by Sunsuke Siinoki.

Following a short essay by Azuma which shares a little of his background story and approach to his work, the book is broken into five sections (Whole, Flock, Coexistence, Hybrid, and Appearance) followed by a comprehensive index of all the images featured. The book broadly examines concepts such as crossbreeding, entropy, symbiosis, seasons, and migration – and it does so almost entirely through the natural (often supernatural) beauty of the flowers and their arrangements.

The book was designed by Kenya Hara and his team at the Nippon Design Centre, and it features many of the hallmarks of a Hara publication including the use of different stocks throughout, elegant typography, and generous amounts of white space which allow the images to sing. Dreamy and otherworldly – visual poetry doesn’t get much better than this.

InBox 001 — Avant Garde Messages
InBox 002 — Colours and Flavours

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