Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Smell Like Old Books

I have to admit, I like the smell of old books, but I definitely don't want to smell like an old book myself.  These are two different things.

Thanks to Christopher Brosius Limited, a New York based perfumery dedicated to unusual smells, has launched a new perfume In the Library which is based on "a signed first edition of one of Brosius' favorite novels, Russian and Morocco leather bindings, worn cloth, and a hint of wood polish."

Here is Brosius' full story behind the In the Library scent :
"I love books, particularly old ones. I cannot pass a second hand bookshop and rarely come away without at least one additional volume. I now have quite a collection!

Whenever I read, the start of the journey is always opening the book and breathing deeply. Don't you find there are few things more wonderful than the smell of a much-loved book? Newly printed books certainly smell very different from older ones. The ink is so crisp. I've also noticed that books from different periods & different countries also have very different smells. And then there are the scents of different bindings: leather is marvelous of course but I find a peculiar pleasure in musty worn clothbound books as well. Perhaps just a hint of mildew!

The main note in this scent was copied from one of my favorite books - I happened to find a signed first edition of this novel a few years ago in London. I was more than a little excited because there were only ever a hundred in the first place!"

Whether it be irresistible to members of the opposite sex, then I really don't know.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Phone Booth Library

This is creative. Conceived by a local resident of a small town in southern England as a way to save a bit of history while satisfying the curious minds of the township, the classic bright red phone booth was recycled into what has now become one of the country’s smallest libraries. Other residents helped to install shelves and stock them with books that they've read, with the opportunity of swapping them out for ones they've not. It is more like a used book exchange. Soon the library is filled with over 100 choices, including DVDs and CDs. On top of that, It is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, without no attendee to manage it, and even lit at night for those who want a book to curl up with before dozing off. How sweet!

Believe it or not ? This scrapped phone booth was purchased from British Telecom (BT) for a mere £1. with the advent of mobile communications, phone booths have gradually been eliminated. In order to preserve a modicum of things nostalgic, BT is in fact encouraging the community to adopt the old phone booths. Now 350 have already found new lives as art installations, showers and even public toilets.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beautiful CD Covers

Songs That Spin in Circles / LULLATONE

Plays Pajama Pop Pour Vous / LULLATONE 

The Bedtime Beat / LULLATONE 

We Will Rock You to Sleep : An Introduction to Lullatone
Find these few lovely CDs at Yebisu Art Labo, Japan today.  The above four are by Lullatone, a music couple - Shawn James Seymour and Yoshimi Tomida -  that creates lullabies for children using whatever they could lay their hands on: xylophones, keyboards, music boxes, sine tones, harps, toy drums, ukuleles, cymbals, shakers, wood blocks, pillows, whispers, heartbeats, bubbles, etc. Do try out their cute raindrop melody maker.

Happy merry Christmas / achordion [Korea Edition]

Vicious Times / James Severy At The Circus Circus [Japan Edition]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Drawing with geometrical brushes

These are awesome.  Using Adobe Flash, the creator Gwen Vanhee has built a rendering/drawing system - a custom-coded brush in ActionScript3 from scratch to draw the imagery. He has a particle system which responds to movement, speed, rotation, mouse gestures and audio frequencies attached to the mouse. So while 'handdrawing' the general sense, direction and rotation with the mouse, all data is recorded to be rendered (frame by frame) afterwards. In short, the resulting imagery is code reaction to mouse gestures. Brilliant, isn't it ?

Go to revoid.be/geometric @flickr for more work in this series. See the largest version for the astonishing details.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


A wander through one of my favorite weblog Dataisnature today yields this exciting find - The art of Japanese Threadballs. Originally developed in China and later spreading to Japan, Temari てまり (meaning 'hand ball' in Japanese) were traditionally made by grandmothers to give to their grand children as a way to amuse and entertain them, also introduce them to the beauty of geometry. Today, Temari balls are given as tokens of good luck. Combining mathematical principles, these expertly and artfully crafted threadballs are really stunning.

NanaAkua’s Flickr set contains a staggering 468 threadballs designed and made by her grandmother, now 88 years old, who combines an excellent choice of colours with a discerning eye for pattern.  

Also worth a visit is the Temari Flickr group.
by CraftyPanties

by CraftyPanties

by wklager

by CraftyPanties

by CraftyPanties

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More 2nd Hand Books

Besides 16 Chinese books, I had bought these 4 from the book sale at Bras Basah last Sunday :

The Miracle of Language | Richard Lederer | Simon & Schuster | 1991

The Mother Goose Book | Alice & Martin Provensen | Ramdoim House | 1976

A Child's Garden of Verses | Alice & Martin Provensen | Golden Press | 1951

The Charles Addams Mother Goose | Charles Addams | Simon & Schuster | 2002

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nabokov's Lolita

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

As listed yesterday, there is this gallery showcasing over 150 book and media covers from 33 countries and 54 years of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.

It’s certainly not a book that’s been universally well-served by designers. There are some covers that want to suggest Humbert Humbert’s lascivious gaze but, to avoid straying into the same morally reprehensible territory as Humbert himself, they do so with an image of a full-grown woman rather than a pre-pubescent girl. Others just have illustrations of fairly inept nymphets (there are some real grotesques in there). And there’s also some good design (as you’d hope in a collection of slightly more than 150 images). ~ Alan Trotter / greaterthanorequalto

It certainly is. Just search through the book covers for the girls.  How many of them portrait the look of a 12-year-old, pre-pubescent Lolita ?  The too-old Lolitas mostly.

Disappointed, as so few of the covers attempt to capture any of the richness of the novel, and many of them are merely absurd, or banal or a laughable combination of both, the blogger of Venus febriculosa thus organized a Lolita book cover contest, offering $350 for the best cover design.  This challenging contest had ended last month and here are some intriguing results.

Suzene Ang of Singapore
”It takes a second before you see what is going on. It’s abstract enough to keep it metaphorical, yet literal enough to imply a sense of story. I love the tease of having the type run up the leg. Elegant, with a sense of humor.” ~ John Gall

Aleksander Bak
”The lone unmoored pink scrunchy manages to be a potent symbol: surrounded by black, it’s s a memento mori representing Humbert’s loss of Lolita and the tragedy of the novel in general. Inevitably, of course, it’s also a stand in for an orifice (you decide whose and which one). The tension between the base and the sublime is wonderful and the composition is wonderful. ” ~ venusfebriculosa

Egor Krasnoperov
”First of course, there is the lollipop theme, present in all its banality, but rendered here beautifully and naively; then the circle that censors Lolita’s crotch, and, finally, the hypnotic vortex into which Humbert has fallen and which, quite literally, centers on Lolita’s sexuality. Pretty wonderful for such a minimal image. ” ~ venusfebriculosa


Lyuba Haleva of Bulgaria

Lucie Lebaz of the UK

I'm with John Gall, who picked his own top choices. Aleksander Bak and Suzene Ang’s Covers are brilliant. I also like Egor Krasnoperov's cleverly and "naughtily" rendered crotch-like lollipop.

You can find all the 155 entries here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Nabokov Collection

Lots of folks are talking (blogging) about the John Gall-curated Nabokov redesigns. John is the art director for Vintage and Anchor Books. he was tasked with redesigning the large collection for which he assembled a team of designers and requested that they each fill a butterfly specimen box with materials to suit their allotted title.  It's not often that we see an author's entire body of work redesigned by such an impressive cadre of designers. The results are simply stunning. There should be 21 of them, but so far only 18 are released for viewing. Interesting that Lolita is not included as yet. I'm waiting .....

Ada, or Ardor by Chip Kidd

Bend Sinister by Carol Carson

Despair by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin

Glory by Martin Venezky

Invitation to a Beheading by Helen Yentus and Jason Booher

King, Queen, Knave by Peter Mendelsund

Laughter in the Dark by Dave Eggers

Look at the Harlequins! by Charles Wilkin

Pale Fire by Stephen Doyle

Pnin by Carin Goldberg

Speak, Memory by Michael Bierut

Stories by Barbara de Wilde

The Enchanter by Megan Wilson and Duncan Hannah

The Eye by John Gall

The Gift by Rodrigo Corral

The Luzhin Defense by Paul Sahre

The Real Life of Sebastion Knight by Sam Potts

Transparent Things by Marian Bantjes

Oh Yeah!  Here are some more cover designs for Nabokov's novels from all over the world for your viewing pleasure.

Ada | Penguin | 1971
Ada o ardore | Mondolibri, Milano | 1969 (Italian)
Ada ou l'ardeur | 1975 (French)
Spring in Fialta (original title : Dozen) | Popular Giant

Invitation To A Beheading | Crest Book
Lolita | DK Hans Reitzel, Copenhagen | 1957
Lolita #1
Lolita #2

Lolita | Sur, Buenos Aires | 1959 (Spanish)
Lolita | Sur, Buenos Aires | 1961 (Spanish)
Lolita | Artemis & Winkler Verlag | 1995 (German)
Lolita | Armoldo Mondadori Editore | 1955 (Italian)

Lolita | G. P. Putnam's Sons | 1955
Lolita | Éditions Gallimard | 1963 (French) ~ front cover
Lolita | Éditions Gallimard | 1963 (French) ~ back cover
Lolita | Gallimard | 2001 (French)

Lolita | Olympia Press | 1955 (1st Ed)
Lolita | Weidenfeld & Nicolson | 2009 (Special Limited Edition )
Lolita | Corgi | c1973
Laughter In The Dark | Bobbs-Merrill Company | 1939

Look At The Harlequins! | McGraw-Hill Book Co | 1974
Pnin (cover design by Jerzy Faczynski)
Pale Fire | Berkley Medallion | 1969
The Real Life of Sebastian Knight | New Directions | 1941

Despair | 2000
Glory | 2006
Invitation to a Beheading | 2001
Laughter in the Dark | 2001
Pnin | 2000
The Gift | 2001
The Annotated Lolita | 2000
The Original of Laura | 2009 (Dust Jacket) ~ design by Chip Kidd
The Original of Laura | 2009 (Front & Back covers)
The Original of Laura | 2009 (inside)

RUSSIAN Владимир Набоков
Лоли́та Lolita | Phaedra | 1967
Лоли́та Lolita | RU Azbooka-Klassika, St.Petersburg | 2006
Пнин Pnin 1957

HEBREW ולדימיר נבוקוב
Lolita לוליטה

ARABIC فلاديمير نابوكوف
لوليت loulita | LEB Dar Al-Adab, Beirut | 1988
لوليت loulita 1999
Pnin | Karnameh Publication, Tehran (Design by Hasan Karimzadeh)
The Defense | Karnameh Publication, Tehran (Design by Hasan Karimzadeh)

KOREAN 블라디미르 나보 코프
Lolita 로리타 1995
Lolita 로리타 1999

JAPANESE ウラジーミル ナボコフ
Lolita ロリータ | 新潮文庫 | 2006
Lolita ロリータ | 新潮社 | 2005
Lolita ロリータ | 河出書房新社 | 1974
Lolita ロリータ | 河出書房新社 | 1962
Lolita ロリータ. 2 | 河出書房新社 | 1959
The Defense ディフェンス | 河出書房新社 | 1999
The Defense ディフェンス | 河出書房新社 | 2008
Letters that never reach Russia ロシアに届かなかった手紙 | 集英社 | 1981

CHINESE 弗拉基米尔•纳博科夫
Lolita 洛丽塔 | 外语教学与研究出 | 2005
Pnin 普宁 | 上海译文 | 2007
Speak, Memory 说吧,记忆——自传追述 | 上海译文 | 2009
Despair 绝望 | 上海译文 | 2006
Laughter In The Dark 黑暗中的笑声 | 上海译文 | 2006

Lastly, this is a dummy design for Lolita by Ian Shimkoviak. Let's wait to see what will the final design look like.