Book Design and custom typography by Kobi Benezri
‘Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs Favourite Restaurants’ is a new International restaurant guide listing contributions from more than 400 of the world’s best chefs, from neighbourhood eateries to three star restaurants, totaling over 2,300 recommendations.
One of my favourite objects at home is a book that my wife received from Alan Fletcher years ago. It is the 1956 local phone directory of residents and businesses in Hastings, England, published by the Kelly’s Directory (or “Buff Books”). In the mid 1900′s, before product placements and Google ad-sense, these types of directories, such as the Kelly’s in the UK, or the Polk’s in the US, displayed a type of commercialism that was so pure and direct. The objects—essentially phone books with listings of businesses—are used to the max with ‘premium listings’ all over the front cover, the spine, the back cover and the pages edges. They are rare looking peculiar books that attracts anyone who looks at them (I know that because everyone who sees it at my home, picks it up!)
These “all-in-one” books convey a rich amount of information and the typography as a result is an eclectic mix that varies from vernacular and local, to luxurious and esoteric, very much like restaurant signage.
In the design brief for ‘Where Chefs Eat’ I was asked to create a design that carries hard solid facts e.g. “A guide from the real experts”, “Chosen by the world’s best chefs”, “Hot, insiders information”, “From bargain to high end”. By organizing the information in the same manner seen in the Kelly’s and the Polk’s directories, I could place as many messages as I wanted as part of the design concept, without shouting “BUY ME!” in its mundane “make-it-bigger sales-exec” style, but rather as a direct aesthetic link to products themselves: restaurants. Great ones, and lots of them!
The design for each chapter openers ties in directly with the cover, allowing to display further messages or call out quotes from known chefs.
The listings layout had to divide the different types of information (restaurant’s name, contact info and address, details, quotes from chefs, and the actual review) in an elegant way. I wanted it to have a feel of a directory and I chose to use Matthew Carter’s Bell Centennial from the AT&T’s phone books. The different styles of this font allowed for a coherent formatting of the listings, and the titles were all set in Tobias Frere-Jones’s Garage Gothic.
The entire book is printed in one color, and all 704 pages of it are pure typography and cartography. I drew the maps specifically for this book — a hard labour that was worth it, in my view, as any other existing map style would feel somewhat defiling. There’s more than a fair amount of typefaces in this book, including a few unreleased ones that I had drawn myself over the years — some were used once in a single projects, other were never used — needless to say, this was a good chance to utilize some of them and ultimately create an object that would truly stand out on store displays or the online retail sphere.
Big thank you once again to Kobi for taking time to put all the images and text together.
This post is tagged Books, Kobi Benezri