O'Reilly logo

Anatomy of Design by Mirko Ilic, Steven Heller

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

46
ANATOMY OF DESIGN
Just as designers have for eons fooled audiences through illusionist techniques
that make two-dimensional paper surfaces appear three-dimensional, they have
also engaged in the curious physics of paper engineering to make paper into
actual dimensional objects—to engage and delight. Pop-up books are the most
common form, as are a variant thereof, paper theaters, constructed of die-cut
papers that simulate stage, curtains, etc. Chilean Francisca Prieto’s 2003 design
for
Antibook, a graphic interpretation of the ninety-two-year-old Chilean poet
Nicanor Parra’s Antipoems, employs some of the same techniques used in pop-
up paper engineering to achieve a curious result: the complete destruction and
subsequent transformation of a book she titled The Antibook.
Parra, a professor of mathematics and physics, has written a lifetime of
verse influenced by existential philosophy; he calls his work
antipoetry because it
is flies in the face of convention. It is written in colloquial language about things
of common interest. Inspired by Parra’s mathematical acumen and vernacular
linguistics, Prieto’s deconstructive design for
Antibook is guided by principles of
mathematics essential to origami. Generally, her work consists of exclusive high-
end pieces for the home that are a fusion of artistic disciplines and the innovative
application of traditional crafts on modern materials. While not high-end in the
home furnishings sense,
Antibook straddles the border of fine and applied art; it is
meant to be savored but also to be read, albeit in an unconventional way.
As a container of information, a book must present this information in
the most appropriate way. The pages form the book’s structure; they are put
together in a certain order for a specific purpose. “But a book has an emotional
and intellectual value that must not be ignored,” Prieto explained in Baseline
magazine (#41). “For me, the real value of a book lies in deeply understanding
it and mastering its essence. Hence, each part of the book, like shape and
material, type and spaces, should be considered in relation to the others in its
design.” For the
Antibook, the horizontal format of the basic page comes from
the idea of breaking the traditional vertical format of the poems, and the
icosahedron shape is a result of an “alternative way of binding.” Prieto notes
the pages were used as the structure to form the book by interlocking
identically folded pages to create the modular origami shape.
Origami is key because it uses pure mathematical rules in the creation
of shapes. “I could use the folding lines of my pages as a grid,” Prieto adds.
“This grid dictated the way I placed the text on the page—in the correct order
and angle—so the poems are readable once in a geometric shape.” To prove
this relationship between the grid and the final shape of the book—the
icosahedron—Prieto created a traditional book with a conventional binding that
contains the same pages and information. “This book presents to us only the
mapping of the information rather than enabling us to read it.”
Consistent with the anti-ness of Parra’s poems and Prieto’s design, the
destruction of the object is also dependent on its reconstruction in a different
though related form. The book’s structure draws on eons of complex paper
engineering but also on the most common of all paper activities—cutting,
folding, and connecting for the purpose of creating a new (and novel) entity that
may not look like it but is as easy to read as Parra’s verse.
Antibook
Designer: Francisca Prieto
2003 Antibook, book
ad: Francisca Prieto
A graphic interpretation of the ninety-two-year-old Chilean poet Nicanor Parra’s Antipoems,
employs some of the same techniques used in pop-up paper engineering to achieve a
curious result: the complete destruction and subsequent transformation of a book Prieto
titled The Antibook.
Interactive book design
Art of folding paper/origami
Interactive design

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required