I am currently reading/perusing the book La mano dell’architetto / The Hand of the Architect, which combines three of my interests: architecture and design; book design; and office supplies. It is a catalog of an exhibition of architectural sketches that was organized in Milan for the benefit of FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano–literally, “The Italian Environment Fund,” but generally translated as the “Italian National Trust.” The FAI is charged with preserving important examples of Italian architecture. The exhibition documented in this catalog was mounted in aid of the preservation of the Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan, and features sketches from more than 100 architects, many from Italy, but representative from around the world.
The exhibition catalog is published as a dual set Moleskine A4 journal. (Moleskines are those ubiquitous little black notebooks that everyone carries in their pockets. Moleskine has in recent years greatly expanded their line of products to include these special products, as well as an online site where one can type in text and print it out to the correct size to paste into a Moleskine notebook.) The first volume is hard bound with lavish color reproductions of the architectural sketches and several brief introductory essays on the nature of the architectural sketch (in Italian, with English translations). Brief biographies of the architects conclude the volume. The typography and design are elegant and understated. The second volume is a soft cover plain Moleskine A4 cahier sketch book. The set is banded together with a specially designed paper band.
This is a book worth dipping into over and over again, because the various sketches reveal themselves in different ways as one looks at them repeatedly. The essays are thought-provoking. And it is a beautiful set to touch and hold.