written by:
November 2, 2012

The first-ever Designers and Book Fair was held last weekend at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The two-day fair featured 35 publishers and around 1,500 books ranging in subjects from architecture to design to urban planning. (Titles were as varied as Why Architects Wear Black to 100 Ideas That Changed Fashion to Design After Modernism.) The fair opened Friday with a panel on the future of book design. The following Saturday and Sunday, publishers from Europe and the United States took up residency at FIT. Each day was interspersed with panels covering book design, fashion, international design, and architecture. The weekend was a successful merger of many fields and professions—a spotlight on images, craft, and the written word.

The NYC-based nonprofit Society of Scribes was on hand designing bookmarks for book fair participants.
2 / 6
Cover stories at the design book fair
The moderator, Michael Silverberg, Editor in Chief of Print magazine, sits to the left. The panelists from left to right: Irma Boom, Peter Mendelsund, Jennifer Daniel, and John Gall.
3 / 6
The Designers and Books Fair took place October 26–28.
4 / 6
A complete list of exhibitors cane be found here.
5 / 6
An example of the titles on view.
6 / 6
designers book fair1

Lars Muller Publishing traveled from Zurich to attend the book fair. The publisher focuses on the intersection of design and urban planning; managing editor Michael Ammann explained the company is particularly interested in “looking at how temporary homes can become permanent ones.” A few books on display embodied the sentiment: the book From Camp to City serves as a case study on how people live in refugee camps in the Western Sahara; through studies and illustrations, Torre David examines how an abandoned high rise in Caracas became a “vertical slum.”

society of scrbied
The NYC-based nonprofit Society of Scribes was on hand designing bookmarks for book fair participants.
Laurence King Publishing Company had a lighter, but no less interesting, selection of books about fashion, architecture, and illustration. Other companies, like Vogel Bindery, set up book-binding demonstrations. The Center for Book Arts, who were sought out to show-off book binding at the fair, also had a letterpress on display. The Society of Scribes wrote out names on bookmarks in calligraphy. 

Cover stories at the design book fair
The moderator, Michael Silverberg, Editor in Chief of Print magazine, sits to the left. The panelists from left to right: Irma Boom, Peter Mendelsund, Jennifer Daniel, and John Gall.
The Sunday panel on Book Cover Design featured graphic designer Irma Boom, graphics director Jennifer Daniel, creative director John Gall, and art director Peter Mendelsund. Each panelist presented their top three book cover designs—picks included the cover of Bright Lights, Big City (says John Gall about this pick: “This made people excited about reading”) and a copy of Othello with an illustrated cover by graphic designer Milton Glaser.

designers book fair 2
The Designers and Books Fair took place October 26–28.
Irma Boom talked extensively about her decision to design an all-white cover for a book anthologizing the textile artwork of Sheila Hicks. Inspired by Hicks' rich, textured work, she decided to emboss the artist's name into the book cover, creating a distinct texture but leaving the cover white. The idea was to create a cover that would represent the artist's textile work to a larger audience; she felt a book cover showing a textile piece would primarily appeal to those already interested in textiles. No one thought the all-white cover would sell. Not only did it sell, Boom went on to win the gold medal for “Most Beautiful Book in the World” at the Leipzig Book Fair.

designers book fair 3
A complete list of exhibitors cane be found here.
The panelists also spoke of the challenge of representing a book through design. “As a designer, it feels like you're paid to design as much as possible,” Peter Mendelsund says. “This is something you have to resist.” John Gall, who recently designed the covers for Haruki Murakami's entire catalog, says, “There are simple elements—the title, image, and author—that have to translate what a book is. It's still a difficult thing to do.”

The panelist didn't think the shift toward e-readers threatened the future of the book design, but admitted the profession needs to rethink how to market physical books. And none of the designers felt that their work stood alone among the words they were designing for. “We're not trying to create a new work, we're trying to create the same work,” says Mendelsund. “A book is a complete thing,” Boom stresses. “It is never just about the aesthetics.”

designers book fair 5
An example of the titles on view.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

kannerresidence 6 mcinturff architects
Abstract expressionist Richard Diebenkorn inspired the fresh coats of paint at this Maryland home.
May 31, 2016
burton residence concrete floors metal panel sliding outside
An easy construction process reduces any drama for a couple in California.
May 31, 2016
Modern outdoor deck with wooden ceiling and metal fence
Working with a limited footprint, a daunting slope, and killer views, architect Bruce Bolander went vertical with a secluded canyon house in Malibu.
May 31, 2016
Sustainable home with galvanized steel shed roof and siding
A rural house in Ontario doesn't fuss around and fits right in the surrounding landscape.
May 31, 2016
Modern prefab summer home in Madeline Island, Wisconsin
Prefab construction simplified the building process of this northern Wisconsin summer home, where all materials required ferrying across Lake Superior.
May 30, 2016
This unrealized plan reimagined the city’s downtown and included a large green area next to the capitol building and paths to bring people to the Delaware River
In her new book, Wild by Design, Margie Ruddick shows us how to get closer to nature.
May 30, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent joa herrenknecht berlin cstudio joa herrenknecht berlin loftsw livingr02 studiojoaherrenknecht 2015
Size doesn't intimidate this ambitious designer.
May 30, 2016
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation facade
Architect Gert Wingårdh creates a passionately outfitted vacation home for two midcentury furniture dealers on the western coast of Sweden.
May 29, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent driaan claassen cape town south africa ccourtesy of driaan claasen dualpage82
Driaan Claassen combines a variety of materials and a love of history to create distinct objects.
May 29, 2016
energy star dirk wynants extremis poperinge beligium sustainable farmhouse facade
The owner of an outdoor furniture company updates a 19th-century farmhouse.
May 29, 2016
Modern small sustainable weekend home with flat roof
Two linked 1,000-square-foot pavilions are greater than a sum of their parts.
May 28, 2016
inside out los angeles home barbara bestor hollywood outdoor facade charcoal paint pool
Architect Barbara Bestor transforms a Hollywood Hills home by opening up its interior to the site’s dramatic backyard topography.
May 28, 2016
right of laneway vancouver garden sliding glass western window systems door outdoor
A Vancouver garden blossoms alongside fresh development.
May 28, 2016
20160229 dgd highhouse 1777 1024x683
A toddler, a pup, and their parents fit onto a 16.5-foot-wide plot in an inner suburb of Melbourne.
May 27, 2016
rec
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
May 27, 2016
capitol gains seattle multifamily living dining room wassily chair chaise le corbusier cb2
Two Seattle architects design and build a dynamic multifamily structure on a formerly vacant lot.
May 27, 2016
modern beach house thatch roof living dining bar cart
By eliminating walls and incorporating a series of interior gardens, architect José Roberto Paredes creates an eclectic and inspired El Salvador beach house.
May 27, 2016
7
A two-story Eichler in San Francisco gets a freshening up.
May 27, 2016
Bathyard renovation in Madrid, Spain
In Madrid, Spain, Husos Architects renovate a turn-of-the-20th-century apartment for a client with dual passions: her houseplants and a nice, long bath.
May 26, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
May 26, 2016
starting over sturgeon bay facade tongue and groove new growth cypress  0
After a devastating fire, architect David Salmela designs a house to replace a beloved lakeside retreat in Wisconsin.
May 26, 2016
Modern home with brick base and cedar rain screen on top level
An architect reimagines an outdated brick garage by designing a graceful new family home atop its foundation.
May 26, 2016
sardenya lr 7
A renovation brings light and order to a Spanish flat, maintaining its standout ceilings.
May 25, 2016
pow 5 25 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 25, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent thom fougere winnipeg canada cthom fougere studio thom fougere saddle chair 2
Designer Thom Fougere plays with scale and typology to create playful furniture.
May 25, 2016
prs my16 0067 v001 1
In the worlds of architecture and design, we’re always looking for the best ways of supporting sustainable building practices. This awareness doesn’t have to stop at our driveways but rather, it can extend to the cars we choose to take us to the places we go each day. With Toyota’s 2016 Prius, the daily task of getting from point A to point B can now be experienced with a new level of efficiency, safety, and style.
May 25, 2016
mountfordarchitects western australia
On a narrow site in Western Australia, Mountford Architects makes the most of a tight spot—with an eye to the future.
May 25, 2016
San Francisco living room with Wassily chairs
Materials and furniture transformed the layout of this San Francisco house, without the need for dramatic structural intervention.
May 24, 2016
shiver me timbers tallow wood kitchen
A pair of married architects put their exacting taste to work on their own family escape in the Australian bush.
May 24, 2016
in the balance small space massachusetts cantilevered cabin glass facade
When nature laid down a boulder of a design challenge in the Massachusetts mountains, an architect’s solution elevated the project to new heights.
May 24, 2016