Mark Porter

Editorial design

New work: River Cafe

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 β€” all the best recipes and stories they’ve collected from a lifetime of travelling and cooking in Italy β€” 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 β€” 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!

1 Comment »

  1. Comment by deborah nevins — December 1, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

    Their books are genius and so is your design. I adore teh way they look. the graphics are so clear and the layout is beautiful.
    It is my favorite present to new young cooks.
    Among my friends we call them the cult cookbooks. I met Ruth and Richard when they lived in the Palce des Vosges. She made vitello tonnato- the first time i ever had it.She knew where the best alomd tartes were to be gotten. I have not kept up with her but do say hello when I am at the River Cafe. I can’t wait to see the new book. As a coincidence, I am now working with Rnzo Piano on 2 projects as a landscape designer. I look froward to Amazon’s quick response to my order!Debby Nevins

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