November 20, 2009
News & Opinion: Look Both Ways
Yesterday, I began looking through a copy of Debbie Millman's new book, Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design, and was immediately struck by the layout. On the surface, it looked like any other, but on the inside, the drawn, handwritten, sewn, etc. typesetting made me want to stop and read. This potential novelty was backed up by really interesting stories and observations, in superbly written form. Here's one bit where Millman reflects and philosophizes about books:
"Every now and then, I remember a book that I read when I was eight or eleven or sixteen...the memory flutters into my head like a yellow butterfly and then I am inspired to once again start a new search. I love this recreation of sorts; knowing that I am simultaneously rebuilding and recrafting my present and my future. Knowing, as Proust observed of Swann's moment with a madeleine, that these books "ultimately reach the clear surface of my consciousness, this memory, this old dead moment which the magnetism of an identical moment has traveled so far to importune, to disturb, to raise up out of the depths of my being...and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of my recollection."
I wish you could see these words as they are written in the book, but I cannot recreate the layout in this blog post. A testimony to print? Perhaps. Moreso, it's clear that the layout Millman chose is not for the sake of novelty, but serves a function to support the content, to make the reader change their perspective with each chapter, as the appearance itself changes.
Also, the quote above is interesting in regards to our company and our product: business books. It made me think a lot about the books I've read that really stuck with me. Books where my imagination created the sound of the author's voice, and when in a situation at work where I needed direction, could actually recall this imaginary voice to talk about the idea from their book, which would, of course, inspire me to seek the book out again.
Praising books is not all Millman's book does though. It's about many things, and I'll post on it again, likely with a Q&A with the author, in the coming weeks. However, I urge any remotely creative group to order a box of these. It will change the way you think about things, how things work, how things look, what brands mean to us and how they function, and how all this work and business and function and design is not just our jobs, but a part of who we are, how we think, and what effect we can have on the world.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.