Ji Cheng (Ming Dynasty), Chen Zhi
The Art of Gardening
Design: Zhang Wujing
Printer: Beijing Shuncheng Colour Printing Co. Ltd.
Publisher: China Architecture & Building Press
A new edition of a rare, historic book about the theory of Chinese horticulture has been published, with contemporary book design. When the Chinese typeface specifies the structure of the lines and text sections, it bears comparison with a typographic translation. The subheads are taken from old woodcut scripts that lend the new page some of their calligraphic flavour. A few fold-out plates have been glued in: the reproduction of a sheet of characters as a zigzag fold documents the visual quality of the original. Single-coloured photographs of famous Chinese gardens have been printed on finely ribbed paper – light-coloured and with weak contrasts. Their letter fold with irregularly spaced folds opens out like a fantasy image. This book seems as though it has grown in a celestial garden. The narrow sign displaying the title is glued to the brown cardboard slipcase that is open on both sides. The dust jacket, truncated in its length, covers two thirds of the open spine, and the tacking thread becomes visible. Light-brown cardboard protects the innerbook at the front and back, the embossed structure seems haptically like the fine bark of a tree. Inside the book the sunyellow tacking thread is seen time and again, as are filaments between flower petals. Is this all unpretentious or representative? Western criteria of the economy and displays of splendour have no validity here. The entirety is so harmonically linked in itself in terms of its asymmetry, colour shades and materials that the eye of the observer even believes that it can see a dark matte gold in the yellowish-brown characters on the jacket.
Process for becoming a little bear
Design: Akihiro Taketoshi (STUDIO BEAT)
Printer: Nakano Letter Press Studio Ltd.
Binder: Misuzudo Bindery
Publisher: be Nice Inc.
The yellow fabric has special gauze that cannot be seen, but rather felt, which is just one reason why opening the horizontal-format, cloth-bound book takes longer than you would expect. Puzzling over the circular relief, you conjure up an image of a plate with edge and recess. The circle is not embossed, but the front cover seems to be made up of three layers – the first two layers are stamped out in the shape of a circle. This achieves a good relief depth, and the fabric cover forms distinct, soft shadowed edges to represent a plate. The neat lines on the cover are embossed with silver foil, and the headband is silver grey. A vertical sleeve adds another dimension to the cover, and a little bear with a small red skirt greets the reader. The sleeve does not have to be removed because it is merely slid over the front cover. Stiff, slightly structured, light-red endpapers at the front and back create a link between the cover and its content, whose creamy white, coarse-grained paperboard sheets are bound with adhesive. On the left-hand side, the uncluttered verses, red, in calligraphic style. The right-hand pages display three-colour illustrations in pictogram-like reduction, with bright red, lemony yellow and medium grey. They are prints of templates with the vibrant structure effects characteristic of monotypic graphics. The picture story goes something like this: new animals keep landing on the yellow, round plate – sperm whale, sheep, stag, bird, hare and then – a bear. The next picture: a boy takes a bear-girl by the hand. At the end all of them land in the bear’s tummy, even the boy. Only the bear-girl creeps alone through the woods.