About a month ago Haruki Murakami released a short story titled Yesterday, a tale about two college aged men who work in a coffee shop near a university in Tokyo. One of them, the narrator, moved to Tokyo to start anew, embarrassed by his old life. The other, Kitaru, has failed the college entrance exam and is cramming to retake it while ignoring his beautiful girlfriend Erika.
Again, Murakami is so great at capturing the mundane parts of life and making them exciting. His style reminds me of the films of Richard Linklater and his Before Sunset series. They’re both able to take the world we know and bring an interesting dimension to it. Below is my favorite snippet from the story, enjoy.
“But another part of me is, like—relieved? If we’d just kept going like we were, with no problems or anything, a nice couple smoothly sailing through life, it’s like . . . we graduate from college, get married, we’re this wonderful married couple everybody’s happy about, we have the typical two kids, put ’em in the good old Denenchofu elementary school, go out to the Tama River banks on Sundays, Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da . . . I’m not saying that kinda life’s bad. But I wonder, y’know, if life should really be that easy, that comfortable. It might be better to go our separate ways for a while, and if we find out that we really can’t get along without each other, then we get back together.”
“So you’re saying that things being smooth and comfortable is a problem. Is that it?”
“Yeah, that’s about the size of it.”
I happen to love plants. I have a giant shelf of them in my apartment, I love visiting nurseries on the weekends, and you’ll often find me Instagram’ing beautiful flowers and palm trees in my day-to-day. Thus a book like Strange Plants is right up my alley. Editor Zio Baritaux has put together three groups of creatives to give their takes on plants: artists who primarily work with plants as a medium, those who don’t normally work with plants who created new works, as well as a group of tattoo artists who’ve created works with plants in mind.
“The artists in this book were challenged to think about their work in new ways and ruminate on their unique experiences with plants,” editor Zio Baritaux says. “I hope this book will inspire others, and challenge the way people look at both plants and art.”
Strange Plants was designed by Folch Studio, an award-winning design house in Barcelona, which also developed Apartamento magazine. Folch was engaged in all aspects of the design and production of Strange Plants, and created a delicate and tactile cover inspired by the interactive nature of pressing flowers inside a book. Each book comes with a blank stamped surface with three adhesives inside, so that readers can make their own covers.
Buy it here for $30
2014 brings forth two reminders that Ai Weiwei hasn’t disappeared… Yet. Working in collaboration with esteemed publishers, TASCHEN, Weiwei has put together the first comprehensive monograph of his life’s work. The release is a testament to Ai’s legacy as an artist and activist. When you’re done browsing the book, you can see his work in person at the Brooklyn Museum, which is host to Ai Weiwei: According to What? that marks the last leg of the artist’s wildly successful show.
Munich based duo Stephanie and Tom Ising design book covers for a living and I must say that they do a rather excellent job at it. Working under the name Books We Made, the pair have worked on book covers of all shapes and sizes, often bringing bold typographic choices and restrained colours to their designs. I reckon that a browse through their portfolio is well worth your time.
Afternoons in the Kitchen is the name of a picture book by Italian illustrator and author Simona Ciraolo. Created as part of a recent Master’s project at Cambridge in London, Simona says that the book is designed to “nurture a healthy appetite for the pleasure of eating good food”. Looking at her illustrations I’m pretty certain that it works a treat!
Having grown up in Switzerland, those that know me are no stranger to my fondness of the country. Those that know me also know of my relentless affection towards Japan—a nation I often refer to as “the Switzerland of Asia.” This is the 150th year of diplomatic relations between the two nations. Surprised? I’m certain everyone is. What’s actually thrilling about this is that to celebrate, the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich has organized an exhibition, Japanese Poster Artists: Cherry Blossom and Asceticism, showcasing the stellar exemplars of renown Japanese graphic design. The exhibit is reflected in an accompanying book, Japan – Nippon, which marks the 26th release of the Lars Müller Publishing’s poster collections.
Once upon a time, somewhere on this very planet, a simple, yet utterly accurate secret was revealed from one fox to a tiny visiting prince of another world:
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Whoever would have thought that it would take a talking fox within a children’s tale to so simply sum up the human condition? This fox, of course, belongs to none other than Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s famous French tour de force, The Little Prince. The Morgan Library and Museum of New York City has turned Saint-Exupéry’s beloved tale, and the stories behind it, into an exhibit, The Little Prince: A New York Story. If you’re like me, and often gaze at the stars, perhaps wondering if a particular sheep has eaten a certain rose, then you’re sure to enjoy this exhibit as I have (oh-so-very-much).
Work in a creative industry? Then chances are you’ve seen Stefan Sagmeister’s Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far kicking around the office. Sagmeister has managed to establish himself as one of contemporary design’s household names, and his book, a bible of sorts to the design-orientated. If you’re not familiar with Sagmeister, Things I have Learned, or modern design, then there’s no better time to grab Abrams Books’ updated release, which contains everything the book is famous for, and then some.