Explore the menagerie of design publications—including many of those listed below—available in Print’s official store, MyDesignShop.
The mission of the Designers & Books website is to introduce and promote books that members of the international design community find important, meaningful and inspirational. Founded in 2009, the site recently became, if not exactly a bricks-and-mortar version of itself, a once-a-year event celebrating everything designers love about books.
The D&B Fair at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City was not only the place to browse and buy beautiful, wondrous books about design and by designers, it was the place to get the newest books signed by their authors; find rare and coveted titles; hear presentations by such luminaries as Irma Boom, Milton Glaser and Peter Bohlin; meet friends old and new; and get inspired to develop and publish your own projects.
The entire operation is the brainchild of Steven W. Kroeter (above, holding Body Type, More Typographic Tattoos by Ina Saltz). He’s also principal of a New York-based firm that consults to architects, designers and museums. Previously he chaired the Department of Design and Management at Parsons School of Design, was vice president of a Chicago architecture firm, a brand manager at Quaker Oats, a marketing analyst at Random House, executive editor of The Paris Review, and an account exec at a big ad agency. He’s the guy who’s done everything. But now—lucky for us—he’s devoting his efforts to Designers & Books. Last Saturday, I caught up with him in the FIT Great Hall, surrounded by books from 50 exhibitors.
Steve, what inspired you to create this amazing — a word I never use unless it’s truly warranted — event?
After publishing D&B as a website for three years, we realized that we’d become acquainted with all the groups of people that are needed to nurture a fair into existence: writers, editors, publishers, critics, booksellers, antiquarians—and of course those who buy books. And after doing some research we discovered that no one else was doing a book fair that focused on architecture, fashion, graphic design, landscape architecture, product design, urban design and all the other disciplines that we consider our portfolio. So it just seemed to make sense to take the plunge.
This is your second year, right?
The fair was first presented in 2012, unfortunately on the same weekend as Hurricane Sandy. My worst fears were almost realized this time, when it looked like Hurricane Joaquin would come our way.
Luckily, all we have is a little rain and wind, and it’s a very good time to be here, indoors. Did you organize all this yourself?
The first D&B Fair took me a year to plan and produce. With this one, which is co-presented by FIT, we are fortunate to have a small, dedicated team supplemented by Joanne Arbuckle, Dean of the School of Art and Design at FIT, along with her staff.
Same time and place next year?
Save the date for November 11 – 13, 2016.
Any plans to bring it to other cities?
I would love that, and our exhibitors would, I think, be up for that. But realistically we would need special access to an accommodating venue and also the right amount of financial backing to have that happen.
Let’s hope that happens. In the meantime, can readers connect and buy on your site?
Readers can definitely connect with us, but we encourage direct sales from the publishers—so I suggest visiting the websites of all the publishers who participated in the Fair as well as the website of our retail partner, the Strand Book Store.
The Strand, located on the corner of Broadway and 12th Street in Manhattan, is famed for its “miles of books.” It’s a place you can truly get lost in, but at the D&B Fair’s retail partner, the offerings were edited and displayed to present the latest titles of interest to designers as well as evergreen classics.
An “Experiences with Authors” program linked buying a book at the Fair with the opportunity to win an event with its author, such as sharing a gelato with Louise Fili in her studio or joining Michael Bierut for lunch at Pentagram. Purchasers of Beautiful Details, by three generations of the Eames family, were eligible to win a tour of the MoMA’s Eames collection by Eames Demetrios, grandson of Charles and Ray Eames.
Many publishers, including small presses and independent designers, exhibited. Graphis magazine is no more, alas, but its publisher, AIGA medalist Marty Pedersen, was there with a beautiful selection of Graphis books.
Keith Godard of StudioWorks took a table to show his inventive Works Editions titles, including Book Mates, an upcoming “print and digital romance” that interacts with your phone or tablet.
Want to write and design your own book, sidestepping the traditional publishing process? The guys from Blurb had tempting advice on how to enter and navigate the print-on-demand world, sample books, and even swatch books with paper options.
One of the most interesting specialty publishers was CLOG, which publishes monographs on architectural subjects.
Swiss Dots is a London-based publisher that exclusively focuses on the work of Gary Hustwit, the independent filmmaker and writer who made his debut with Helvetica, a documentary about graphic design and typography.
I was happy to see Zoe Wright of Allworth Press with a nice selection of business and professional titles, including The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Clients.
A whole aisle was devoted to rare, vintage books about design. I’d met many of the booksellers at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair last spring. Christine Persche of Appledore came to Designers & Books with a selection including a well preserved early Paul Rand title.
The Fair was a great place to reconnect with friends and colleagues. Hank Richardson of The Portfolio Center in Atlanta toured the exhibits with two of his students.
Apparently. authors and publishers are still trying to decide if print is dead or not dead. Visitors to New York, including designers Iratxe Lopez de Munáin and Miguel Pang of Barcelona, below, happily agreed that If the Fair demonstrated anything, it’s that print is very much alive.
With Elegantissima, the first documentation of Louise Fili’s body of work, discover the wide reach of her four-decade design career. Case studies explore sketches, inspiration, references, and design process, making this the perfect reference for graphic design students and professionals, or anyone with an interest in books, advertising, food, restaurants, and Italy.