The Popular Book that is Wrapped in Black Cheesecloth
Do you know of the artist named Mesquita, who thrived in the Netherlands during the late 19th century to the 20th century? Shinohara Shiko was chosen to bind the exhibition book for the Mesquita Exhibition, which started in 2019 at Tokyo Station Gallery and is currently touring across the country. This binding became popular in book design circles, and designers who attended meetings at Shinohara Shiko would look at this book and comment, “So this was made at Shinohara’s place,” before jumping into lively discussions.
I carried out this project through the printing company, meaning that I was not directly involved with any designers. I started by reading and understanding the specifications, using my imagination to identify what kind of book the other party wanted to make. What is most distinctive about this book is that all of its surfaces are covered by cheesecloth. At the stage of evaluating the specifications, I was concerned that this would not be possible, but an employee specializing in hand processing who I consulted rapidly responded that this is possible after assessing this matter. Then, we created tens of thousands of copies by hand.
You may be surprised at the number of copies hand-pasted, but the employee in charge of the work said, “It was fun to make (the copies) because the finished books were so cool.” We carefully work on each book with our heart and soul, and books with beautiful binding change the motivation of the people working on them.
A Happy Voice from an Unexpected Place
I had imagined that I would not hear opinions and comments of joy from the binding designers because this is an indirect job, but I heard a happy voice from an unexpected place when everything was finished. Somebody who purchased this picture book at the exhibition venue and was moved by the precision of the fold of this book asked an employee of the shop which company did the bookbinding (because the bookbinding company was not listed in the colophon) and researched the contact information to make a phone call to directly share this emotion with Shinohara Shiko.
Because this picture book has many patterns that are printed across 2 pages, if the pattern deviates at the center spread, the book would look very bad. Therefore, I paid very close attention to the precision of how the pages in this book were folded. It made us very happy that people understood our intention. This call was much appreciated.
Beautiful Books in the Eyes of Bookbinders
To us, one criterion for a beautiful book is a book that does not give the reader a slight sense of discomfort when picking up the book. There are many detailed aspects, such as deviations of patterns at the center spread, as I mentioned earlier, how the book opens, and paper texture that is suitable for the book’s concept.
This is a book that does not give the reader any discomfort and allows the reader to focus on the content of the book. I felt that the precision and beauty in places that are not readily seen were properly appreciated by people who understand.