Design as an Attitude: Nominated books by Conor Donlon, invited by Alice Rawsthorn

06 December 2020

Guest Curator Alice Rawsthorn invites twelve of her friends from the fields of contemporary art, design and other areas of contemporary culture to nominate books for Dublin Art Book Fair 2020.

The list includes twenty titles nominated by Alice and a further seventy-seven books suggested to us by her invitees. Collectively these books add another incredible, fascinating and diverse dimension to the books that DABF 2020, Design as an Attitude gathers together. The nominated books are available to purchase on our Shop and come with short notes of recommendation, written by their nominees.

Alice Rawsthorn (writer and design critic), Paola Antonelli (Senior Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA), Alvaro Barrington (artist), Hilary Cottam (social designer), Michael Craig-Martin (artist), Es Devlin (artist and stage designer), Conor Donlon (owner Donlon Books, London), Marie Donnelly (philanthropist), Andrew Durbin (writer and editor of frieze), Helen Marten (artist), Hans Ulrich Obrist (Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, London), Zoé Whitley (Director, Chisenhale Gallery, London).

Selection by Conor Donlon, art bookseller

Enzo Mari, Autoprogettazione?(Corraini)
Originally published in 1974 Autoprogrettazione? was created by the late, great Italian designer Enzo Mari as a design manual for a collection of furniture which could be assembled from basic materials, using just a hammer and nails. Still as relevant as ever, this book also came in very useful for me during lockdown earlier this year. It's the ultimate DIY book!

Martino Gamper, 100 Chairs in 100 Days and its 100 Ways (Dent-De-Leone)
Another title with a democratic design ethos, in which London based designer Martino Gamper uses discarded and donated chairs to create 100 new designs with a playful twist.

Patrick Fry, Atlas of Forms (Porsuite Editions)
Bernd and Hilla Becher on acid! 1500 architectural photographs patiently collected from the Internet and classified according to the rudimentary criteria of geometry.

Theo Deutinger, Handbook of Tyranny (Lars Müller Publisher)
Handbook of Tyranny gives a profound insight into the relationship between political power, territoriality and systematic cruelties through a series of detailed non-fictional graphic illustrations. A fascinating book.

An Atlas of Rare & Familiar Colour: The Harvard Art Museums & Forbes Pigment Collection (Atelier Editions)
An exploration of some of the world’s rarest colour pigments housed at The Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museum.

Magdalene Odundo, The Journey of Things (In Other Words)
Published to accompany Magdalene Odundo’s 2018 exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield gallery in Yorkshire, this survey of her work in ceramics displays a perfect marriage of content with the book's actual design. The book object consists of interleaved sections which pairs and juxtaposes the historic and the contemporary in her work.

Hélène Bertin, Valentine Schlegel - Je Dors, Je Travaille (Les Presses du Réel/CAC Brétigny)
This monograph of French artist Valentine Schlegel's broad artistic practice is one where the book object mirrors the work of it's subject via it's successful design. Also, one of the bestselling books I’ve ever had in the shop, which is a both a testament to her practice and the book itself, given that her work remained relatively unknown until its publication.

Maryam Fanni, Natural Enemies of Books: A Messy History of Women in Printing and Typography (Occasional Papers)
An insightful response to the 1937 publication 'bookmaking on the distaff side' in which women reclaim a space in bookmaking and design.

Maximage (ed.), Color Library - Research into Color Reproduction and Printing (JRP Editions)
Produced by the Swiss design school ECAL as a manual for experimental printing techniques, Color Library represents the future of print in a publication that also serves as an artist’s book in its own right.

Bruno Munari, From Afar It Was An Island (Corraini Edizioni)
From Afar It Was An Island is one of those children's books which adults buy for their children but secretly buy for themselves...

Paul Virilio, Bunker Archaeology (Princeton Architectural Press)
Paul Virilio turns his attention to the ominous German bunkers of WWII on the coast of France. The author's haunting photographs are accompanied by his analysis of the architecture of war in both philosophical and concrete terms.

Bruno Munari, Circle, Square, Triangle (Princeton Architectural Press)
Also published in separate editions for each of the three shapes by Corraini Edizione. Another one from the great Bruno Munari in which the visionary Italian designer turns his attention to the three primary shapes. The result is a sublime handbook of observations, connections and expansive possibilities.

R. Buckminster Fuller, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (Lars Müller Publishers)
Originally published in 1969 but more relevant than ever, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth offers a utopian vision in these dystopian times.