September 11th, 2009
Book design is a very slow process. I don’t do many books, but when I do I usually find it a pleasing antidote to the crazy deadlines I work to on so many other things. I started working on the River Cafe Classic Italian Cook Book last autumn and the launch party is on sunday, so I though it was time to show a few pages.
I’ve done a few books with the River Cafe now. As I mentioned before, the authors are not the easiest of clients, but they’re great people, I love the restaurant and I love cooking, so it’s always fun to do something with them. This book is intended to be their definitve work — all the best recipes and stories they’ve collected from a lifetime of travelling and cooking in Italy — and at 416 pages, its a substantial volume.
They have a great history with design. The original ‘blue’ River Cafe book designed by David Eldridge in the early 90s, was the first of the modern highly-designed chef’s cookbooks on the UK market, and is probably guilty of starting the “food porn” movement. It was followed by a mountain of shiny overdesigned hardbacks which will for ever languish on people’s kitchen shelves without ever being opened. But the River Cafe books always work as cook books too. I cooked a lot from the first one, and I’m really looking forward to trying out the new one.
They have a strong design house style (crisp, modern, colourful) and this book works within that while trying to bring some freshness to the brand, and do some visual storytelling — this book is about Italy, not about the restaurant. They’re very much sans-serif people, and this time the font is Mario Feliciano’s Flama. There’s a wide variety of pictures, from a lot of different photographers (including my guv’nor at the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, who spent a couple of summers in Italy with the authors), but most the food is by David Loftus. I think the mix of different photography styles, and of food and reportage, gives a real sense of the scope and richness of the content.
Here are a few spreads. I’m very happy with the project; and if you like cooking, I recommend it highly!