MD2 – Week 8

Design & Critique

“But I realised that the thing that drove me, the thing I wanted to do, was to make objects that people kept in their home and that meant a lot to them, that represented something they loved.” – Darren Wall, Read Only Memory.

I have bought many fictional books in either physical or digital form which I have read on holiday or picked up whenever I can get some time to myself! Once finished, the digitals ones usually stay on my iPad, but the physical books get moved on for somebody else to enjoy. However, when I buy a more expensive book which is beautifully made or a bit different in design, I tend to want to keep that book forever.

I want to do exactly as Darren says above and keep it in my home and love it!

These types of books are usually ones that have been bought for me as gifts, ones that remind me of a particular time and place or books on specific subjects that I am interested in and passionate about.

If you ever get stuck on an idea for a present for me – a beautiful book is always a winner!

In fact, my family bought me the Dolly Parton ‘Songteller’ book this Christmas, which is a beautiful big book containing the lyrics to 175 of her songs alongside the stories behind them and how she went about writing them. The perfect present!

Dolly Parton - Songteller

I think I have mentioned in previous blogs that having a book in your hand is all about the experience. Yes, you can read the text that has been written and look at the photography, but owning a book is much more than that. For me, a physical book can stimulate my senses much more than a digital version can. It’s great to be able to see all the books I love on my shelf, knowing that I can pick them up at any time and enjoy that experience.

Of course, the beauty of the books is in how they have been made and what materials have been used. If there is something special or unique about the books too, then even better.

They are many printing techniques that can be used and as I have seen through some of the lectures and resources on this course, there have been some unusual and different ways of working with printers to produce some unique techniques.

I own the book ‘The House of Cash’ which is about country singer Johnny Cash, written by his son. What is lovely about this book is that it is quite interactive. It is almost a scrapbook of memories, song lyrics and photographs. Some pages are smaller than others, you can pull pieces of the page out of pockets and other pages can fold out to reveal more information. You get a real sense of what it was like growing up in that family.

House of Cash

I also own a couple of books on Champagne! The packaging of one is a sleeve that contains the book about the making of Champagne and its history, but it also has a draw that you can pull out which contains a beautiful map of the Champagne region.


The other is a book all about Veuve Clicquot. I love this book so much, mainly because of all the beautiful photography and the colour. It is bright orange because the brand is orange! It stands out on the shelf and you can instantly recognise it. It’s a huge book which is very heavy and when you run your hands across it, you can feel the quality of the materials used.

Veuve Clicquot

I have to be honest, most of the books that I own have either been bought as gifts or I have gone looking for them. I can’t think of any specific campaigns that I have seen, where I have gone on to buy the book.

Most of my designs books that I own, I found out about on websites or on social media. I subscribe to quite a few newsletters and emails where I can catch up on any new releases, but recommendation or word of mouth has led to most of my purchases.

The concept of crowdfunding and using sites such as ‘Kickstarter’ is interesting because you have to sell your idea even before you’ve finished or printed the final version of your book.

You can build an audience and get them excited about your book – long before it even exists! Once you get that audience on board, you can produce a finished piece that is totally yours and which you have full control over.

Darren from Read Only Memory compares his experience of publishing a book through Kickstarter with traditional publishing, “I think had we got to publish it through a traditional publisher it would have got compromised, printed cheaply, boiled down to something safe. I don’t think it would’ve worked; it would have just been ‘I made a book’. But I think when we did it through Kickstarter, I made no compromises. I printed it all on ridiculously expensive Italian paper and used amazing bindings, printed things on high-end printers. Everything you shouldn’t do and actually I think that’s why we ended up doing something that people wanted more of.”

To be able to see and feel the time and effort that has gone into producing and publishing a book along with the wonderful printing techniques and the quality of paper used is why I buy books on subjects that interest me. I won’t be passing them on for others to enjoy – I will be keeping them securely on my shelves, forever!



Workshop Challenge

Ideally, I would like my 3,000-word essay to be in the form of a coffee table book that can stimulate people’s senses.

I did think about an exhibition style experience which would work quite well if I did further research and interviewed more people on my topic.

But for now, I have been thinking about the best way to design my essay and appeal to an audience who can relate to childhood nostalgia.

Whist my essay talks about childhood nostalgia, I don’t want the book to be about childhood nostalgia specifically. It would be easy to have lots of images through the book of fashion, music and culture across the decades but because my essay is more about whether your own childhood experiences have an impact on where you decide to bring up your own children, I want the book to be about nostalgia that is common between parent and child.

However, saying that, I do talk about my own childhood in the essay and I feel it would be nice to pay tribute to that in the book. I have been looking at typefaces, colours and patterns of the 70s that I could possibly incorporate into the design.


One thing I remember clearly from growing up in the 70s was that I was bought quite a few books that contained a vinyl record in the back which you played and followed the story along with the narrator. They were usually Disney stories that would have been released alongside the film. You followed the story and turned the page when the bell rang and at the end you could play a couple of songs from the film.


Vinyl Record Stories

A large part of my essay was interviewing the people who had specifically moved back to bring up their children in the same village as they grew up in. Due to Covid, I was only allowed to send a questionnaire for them to fill out. I asked questions of the parents and of their children. If I had been able, I think it would have been great to record the interview and capture all the memories that the parents had of when they grew up but also of the children and see how they compared.


With this is mind, my book would have these interviews recorded onto a vinyl record which could be played as you got to the image section of the book, near the end.

The recordings could be introduced by sounds that the audience could connect to, for example, birdsong, lawn mowing, children playing, sweets in a jar, music, chatting in a butcher, grocers etc, with a snippet of the parent and child being interviewed. The full interview would follow and the audience would look at the images in the book whilst listening.

The sounds and snippets of interview could be used in promoting the book by putting together some postcard designs which could be sent out or used via social media to trigger people’s own childhood nostalgia and get them to participate in recording or writing down their own particular childhood memory. These postcards could be collected to create a separate piece of artwork to also help promote the book.

Vinyl records are becoming popular again because there are a generation of people, I believe, who miss the physical form of music and would like to build up a collection again.

My book could have a run of limited editions that contain the recordings of the interviews on vinyl record packaged at the back of the book, but the normal version could have a more modern way of listening (for the generation that still don’t know what vinyl is) either by connecting to a website or a podcast via their phone.

I want my book to be well made and have a feeling of quality about it. Ultimately, I would like the audience to be able to pick it up, read some lovely stories and memories from the people interviewed and look at some quality photography whist listening to sounds and reminiscing about their own childhood memories.