Documentation, reflection, introspection, fun.

The book to the left I made for my neighbours in Benand, with the cover out of a tourist dish-towel with an image from the village. The other images show the bookmaking in progress on the kitchen table

The sketch book is the most important tool that the designer has. Yes, some people tell me that they do it all digitally nowadays, and there is software that helps with sketching. But for the real ideas exploration and reflection there is nothing that replaces a piece of paper and a pen. The sketch book is a kind of a tool where one talks to oneself, ideas are proposed, they are drawn (however badly) and then looked at in a reflective mode and then evaluated for further idea creations.

Gluing the ends of the books.

I have used sketchbooks for all of my professional career, and actually started using sketchbooks while I was very young. Of course, like all young people I did lots of drawing onto bits of paper and then lost them. Surely many of those would be today masterpieces (at least in my memory). But in university I was fortunate enough to have a professor who hammered the methodology into me to keep record of my work. The main reason is to develop self-reflection and evaluation of ones own history. I want to clarify that the sketchbook is not a book to make great artwork into, it is a book for experimentation. An example: Some years ago I was approached by a curator who was setting up an exhibition of design and architecture in Iceland. They wanted to include one of my buildings in the exhibition as an example of very early Post-Modernism. I told him “fine” but also asked: “Dont you want to see the sketchbook”. I have the whole history of the design in my books and can date the work.

The cover of the books is cut out of the African Capulana. I loved this one because it has letters. The left image shows the cutting of the textile for the card cover and the other one shows two books and me gluing one together with the use of granit from the French Alps

My sketchbook is of course also a kind of a visual diary and some of my friends ask it they can browse through my sketchbook, I think because they probably like the cartoonish storytelling that appears there. At least they do not do it for the art itself.

The books sewn together with red thread. Then one applies the glue etc.

When I set up the design education in Iceland 10 years ago, I decided to include in the program a course about the use of the sketchbook named: “Mind and Hand”. This included the introduction of the sketchbook as a tool for experimentation etc. The course is also fundmental for communication to others, such as when I was designing furniture here in Maputo, early in my days here, I could talk to the guys (almost without Portugese) through the use of my book.

Here in ISAC we had great time last semester when all the students made their first book, and it really warms my heart when I see most of them using the book daily in school.

Through the influence of my friends I have started making these books myself. I do actually love the manual labour, it becomes meditation about other things. Cecilie (the one half of Gilles and Cecilie was so nice to teach us how to bind books and since it is difficult to obtain good paper and card in Maputo I decided to make myself a new sketchbook while staying in my house in France. Here are some images of the work. I made many and have given to friends.

Dori in the kitchen in Benand sewing folios together, I love red thread, it is fun to see it inside the book. And of course the necessary glass of fizzy wine

April 15, 2010  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: DESIGN