The first preliminary sketches for the cover design happened very early in the process, and were done in response to the need for something to go in the Princeton Architectural Press Spring 2011 catalog. Of course, that was being printed in summer of 2010, if I remember correctly. Mary Virginia and I were deep in the process of writing the book, and a few ideas got tossed about. We sent these off to Princeton Architectural Press, who used the 3rd one (below) in the catalog, but we felt like we needed to keep pushing the idea. (That’s how this 3rd design ended up on the papress.com website, and on Amazon for awhile.)
As Mary Virginia and I got closer to finishing the manuscript, Masumi Shibata and I began the process of photographing the various books that were to be featured. We’d set up a temporary shooting studio in one of the empty rooms in the Skolkin+Chickey offices. It consisted of 2 lights, a roll of paper and a card table. I had my tripod and Masumi brought his camera.
We needed to come up with some visuals for the chapter breaks. We had a stack of bulking dummies around the office from all of the books that were being worked on. (A bulking dummy is an unprinted, bound version of a book, made from the paper and cover materials you’ve decided on. A printer will provide this as a visual; it’s a chance to see the object before you’ve started printing.)
The bulking dummies were in all different sizes and shapes, but completely blank and wrapped in white paper boards and/or white dust jackets. They’re like the Platonic Ideal of a book. I thought we could photograph them in ways that would be perfect for the chapter delineations.
Masumi was the photographer, and I was sort-of the art director for these shoots. At one point I suggested photographing one of the bulking dummies with me holding it. I held it in front of my chest, in my lap, etc. It didn’t quite work. Then I held it off to the side, against the white back-drop. That worked, on some level.