Writer, poet and art collector Gertrude Stein is one of the most beloved — and quoted — luminaries of the early 20th century. In 1938, author Margaret Wise Brown of the freshly founded Young Scott Books became obsessed with convincing leading adult authors to try their hands at a children’s book. She sent letters to Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Gertrude Stein. Hemingway and Steinbeck expressed no interest, but Stein surprised Brown by saying she already had a near-complete children’s manuscript titled The World Is Round, and would be happy to have Young Scott bring it to life. Which they did, though not without drama. Stein demanded that the pages be pink, the ink blue, and the artwork by illustrator Francis Rose. Young Scott were able to meet the first two demands despite the technical difficulties, but they didn’t want Rose to illustrate the book and asked Stein to instead choose from several Young Scott illustrators. Reluctantly, she settle don Clement Hurd, whose first illustrated book had appeared just that year. The World Is Round was eventually published, featuring a mix of unpunctuated prose and poetry, with a single illustration for each chapter. The original release included a special edition of 350 slipcase copies autographed by Stein and Hurd.
Despite the ever-encroaching digital world, the popularity of Moleskine, those utterly dignified black notebooks that can be carried in your pocket, seems to only have increased. The many 20th-century cultural heroes who carried Moleskines, from Oscar Wilde to Pablo Picasso, have lent the brand an aura of creative genius.
But this winter, Moleskine is bolstering its 21st-century cred with the publication of
The Detour Book, a collection of the creative journals of present-day artists, designers, and writers. Noted by Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova last week, The Detour Book sounds like one of those tomes that deserves to be poured over:
Scattered across the pages of The Detour Book are the images of over 250 notebooks decorated, hacked, and filled with intimate sketches and drawings by some of the world’s most celebrated creative professionals; among them architects, designers, film directors and musicians including Spike Jonze, Sigur Ros, Mary Ellen Mark and Karim Rashid, to name a few.
There are funny little cartoons from Dave Eggers and brilliant sketches from Toyo Ito, which show the Mikimoto building taking over Ginza. Each book is its own unique archive, preserving the struggle to bring a spark of an idea to fruition.
What’s interesting about the collection is that most people don’t use Moleskines as traditional sketchbooks at all. Instead, designers like Tord Boontje have used them as 3-D objects, slicing through their eggshell pages and hacking them into study models. ATELYE 70, the Turkish architecture studio, turned the fold-out pages of a Moleskine Pocket Accordion into an actual architectural model, inserting plexiglass staircases and scale models between the folds. http://bit.ly/V8wi6W
The Detour Book is one of those rare pieces of marketing that rewards a company and the consumer equally. It’s marvelously fun reading. And who can blame Moleskine for being proud? Buy your copy here.
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