If you’ve passed an independent magazine stand or stepped into a newsagents of late then without a doubt you’ll have some idea of what The Gourmand is. The biannual journal focuses on food in all its guises, and it’s invariably too enticing not to pick up. Founded by David Lane and Marina Tweed, the magazine is something of a pulsating hub for cultural references, with every page bearing the kind of striking imagery that challenges accepted patterns of independent publishing, urging the whole industry forward. You can see why we decided to grab co-founder and creative director David Lane to run us through his five favourite inspirational books from the studio Bookshelf.
Tim Hunkin: Almost Everything There Is To Know: Thousands of Odd Facts, Hundreds of Ridiculous Experiments, Ideal For All Ages From 8–80
Tim Hunkin is a British engineer, inventor, cartoonist and author. He was responsible for many of the wonderful machines that filled the (now sadly closed) Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in Covent Garden, which was the site of many inspirational visits for me as a child. He also presented The Secret Life of Machines which belonged to an era of BBC television programming that makes today’s Dancing on Celebrities Factor in a Big Fat Jungle look like an unwanted sales supplement inserted into The Daily Mail. This book, a compilation of strips, was first published in The Observer as the Rudiments of Wisdom. It does exactly what it says on the cover, and as a slightly dyslexic child the illustrations engaged me no end, drawing me in to learn about how all sorts of wonderful things worked.
Kinetics: Catalogue of an Exhibition held at Hayward Gallery, London, 1970
This beautifully designed catalogue hails from a hugely labour intensive pre-computer era of editorial design. It definitely has the book design X factor—that perfect, undefinable synergy that sits in the invisible spaces between design, physical/material form and functionality—that only the best books possess. It is a compilation of folded sheets, unbound, and inserted into a slip case. The movement of the sheets and infinite possibilities of the ordering perfectly reflect the kinetic theme of the show. Designed by Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes—the earliest iteration of Pentagram, and in my mind, up there with the best British design studio of all time—this catalogue embodies a golden era where graphic design was truly a learned craft, where PR, advertising and marketing departments were yet to be invented, and where a small studio of three could create work for international institutions and companies without the inevitable dilution of concept that is so apparent today. The exhibition too was a tour de force of brilliant, concise, optimistic modernism.
The New Yorker: The New Yorker Album of Drawings 1925—1975
The thing I find hardest in my working life is being rushed. I hate not being able to give projects the time they need to elevate them from simply being good to being stand-out. It always takes that last push to make something good, and increasingly with more and more to do in a day this becomes harder and harder. I have a default setting that I’m often getting in trouble for, of envying the pre-digital era (as these selections will undoubtedly reflect). Without the constant trailing and recycling of the Tumblr generation tapping into an endless pile of existing aesthetic references things were often so much more individual. Work was less about surface value and fashion and more about intelligent ideas.
One field that I think has been greatly affected by this cultural gear change is illustration. It is true that there are still some amazing illustrators out there creating timeless work, but so often people are just making things that look nice, and not things that make you think. This book is an amazing compendium of clever illustration from The New Yorker, including a lot of work by Steinberg who, in my mind, is one of the best illustrators of all time.
David Hockney and Brian Baggott: Off The Wall, Hockney Posters
I received this book as a prize at school for textile design when I was 13, and then forgot about it, only to revisit it recently. It contains all of the posters that have been designed for and by David Hockney for his many exhibitions. I always knew he was a brilliant painter, and after seeing the drawing exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery I realised quite what a brilliant draughtsman and printmaker he is – he trained with Picasso’s printer, no less. Revisiting this book I realised what a gifted designer he is too.
I also have an amazing book of his theatre and costume design which I could have included instead of this volume – he’s a true Renaissance man. The designs are so personal and pure, the lettering design, colour and line are undisputedly his own. It also has an amazing selection of his paintings, each one chosen as the stand-out piece from the show, worthy of the poster.
Cyril Ray: The Compleat Imbiber
The below is taken from the introduction to Patrick Baglee’s brilliant essay in Issue #1 of The Gourmand on The Compleat Imbiber series. It was a true inspiration when we started the magazine, and remains one of my absolute favourite book series for its eccentricity and eclectic content. Myself and Patrick both collect these incredible volumes and being a far better writer I thought I would let him introduce it. “From how to best pair sardines with Sauternes to William McGonagall’s tale of his assault by vegetables at the local (from which this modest homage takes its title (The First Man Who Threw Peas at me was a Publican), The Compleat Imbiber laid before its loyal readers a remarkable collection of culinary and literary morsels. Published irregularly between 1956 and 1992 and edited by the remarkable Cyril Ray, this epicurean charivari combined practical advice on fine wines and seasonal ingredients with esoteric musings on the effects and benefits of an appetite for the finer things in life.”
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