The Off the Shelf series explores unique MoMA publications from the Museum Archives.
Whether an attractive cover, unusual paper, or unique layout draws you in, no doubt you have experienced the joys of a beautifully designed book. Along these lines, every year AIGA selects the best in book and book cover design for its 50 Books/50 Covers award. We recently made our submissions for this year’s award, so it seems like a good time to take a look back at recent MoMA book designs that received this honor: in 2010, Gabriel Orozco and In & Out of Amsterdam: Travels in Conceptual Art, 1960–1976; and in 2009, Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today, Design and the Elastic Mind, and Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling.
A vibrantly colored collage selected from one of Orozco’s notebooks is the front cover of Gabriel Orozco, designed in close collaboration with the artist by design studio Pure+Applied. Conceived of as “an astronomical guide to Orozco’s artistic universe,” the design is remarkable for its reproductions of Orozco’s personal notebooks of sketches, drawings, and collages previously unseen by the public. Not leaving any element out, the edges of his notebooks are also reproduced, so that they become books within a book.
In & Out of Amsterdam, designed by Mevis & Van Deursen, considers Amsterdam in the 1960s and 1970s as a nexus of art activity that fostered a cross-pollination of ideas between international artists. Its graphic cover, with arrows pointing in opposite directions, reflects this spirit of creative exchange and the sense of mobility within the artists’ works.
A book about color needs to be colorful! The exhibition Color Chart featured artworks influenced by industrial paint colors; to reiterate this theme in the catalogue, designers Takaaki Matsumoto and Hisami Aoki used colors from the offset printing process—cyan, yellow, and magenta—throughout the book.
Perforated edges and cover graphics that look simultaneously both hand drawn and computer generated distinguish the catalogue Design and the Elastic Mind, designed by the renowned Irma Boom, and reinforce the theme of the exhibition, an exploration of the relationship between science and design in the contemporary world.
Home Delivery examines a wide array of prefabricated architecture and design from the 1830s to present day, and illustrates an extensive range of archival materials—full-scale constructions; architectural drawings; and models, toys, and packaging. To unite this disparate imagery, designer Naomi Mizusaki designed the book using basic prefab concepts: typography that is utilitarian and familiar, a unique grid that runs throughout, and a layout that feels modular and efficient.