The Gentle Author and designer David Pearson have launched a new book. One which celebrates illustration, words, typography, print and design. An eminent list of artists collaborated on the project, and David spoke of his involvement at the launch at St Bride Library. The book tells the story of my family business, Baddeley Brothers.
In an inspiring insight into his involvement with the book, David reflected on the opportunity to glimpse into the lives behind an illustrious family tree – filled with amazing connections and locations that help tell a story of British type and design. “It has proven to be that rare project which brings everything you love together.”
We invited him to the Baddeley Brothers factory, where he “opened a treasure trove of wonderful paper engineering, which are quite simply the most delightful things to find in a box.” He wanted to photograph everything, from period pieces to type specimens.
Highlighting one photograph, David focused on his delight to find a highly detailed brass plate, claiming it reminded of him of “a kiss effect, just like two brothers”. No wonder he chose it as the perfect photograph to mark the start of the story of Baddeley Brothers.
As well as searching the archive for illustrative photographs and specimens, David took inspiration from the factory locations and work he discovered to choose the type for the book. His fondness for the Caslon Letter Foundry, a neighbour of Baddeley Brothers from 1885 to the early 1940’s, led him to Caslon Doric, which he felt “had the smell of the industrial revolution”. From there, he chose a suite of typestyles to liven the pages, for the printing glossary, envelope descriptions and progressive chapters.
He was given the opportunity to experiment by matching old fashioned typestyles with pop colours, through which he developed a colour palette that “was not locked in the past, but reflected the chronology of each chapter, becoming punchier as you progress through the book”. Using four colours, David created a rhythm, shifting tone and temperament between each chapter and mirroring the evolution of the company and designs it was shaping.
These colours were used for the drawings by Lucinda Rogers, who David said “has an amazing energy and spontaneous style that has real integrity and mirrors the Gentle Author’s writing style in many ways.”
The tip-ins, which use the Gentle Author’s words, found David working with type in the way that he is most comfortable. He wanted to break up the chapters with decorative flourishes, which showcase the skills of the craftsmen at Baddeley Brothers.
For the cover, David chose the logo. Suggestive and intriguing, we agreed that it hints at the contents without giving too much away. Discussion at the launch about the logo reflected that it has remained unchanged through the years – that can be distorted and added to – yet remains, at its core, a recognisable brand that is as relevant today as it was in 1865. I’m delighted that David deemed it compelling enough to adorn this “tale of many Baddeleys”.
To order, visit www.baddeleybrothers.com/book.