A love affair with books...

I wrote this a while ago, but this book series is still one of the most beautifully designed I've come across. Read the full post here: http://www.bookdesignawards.co.nz/booklook-with-anna-brown-2/

This collection of books was commissioned in 2006 by the Institut Français, an organisation set up by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

These books are typeset in Quadraat (serif and sans serif) with a smattering of Futura Bold. Every edition uses these typefaces, but each does so in a novel way. The way Millot uses the grid is expert, but it is in his whimsical use of Quadraat that you really get the sense that he is flexing his typographic muscles. He uses drop caps in one edition and large folios in another. Footnotes bring the page to life and timelines allow Millot to change the reading condition from portrait to landscape... continue reading

Photobook / NZ Festival 2018

Some of you might be interested in this excellent event: https://www.photobooknz.com/

I'm excited to be part of the team delivering a two-day masterclass on 7 & 8 March 2018 at the College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Wellington, in which we will explore the processes of creating and publishing photobooks. 

Targeted for artists and photographers who have a photo based project in development, the workshops offer opportunities for each participant to work through the process of how to turn their own body of work into a completed photobook.  

Presentations from international guests will explore approaches to concept development, editing and sequencing, design, funding and finding your audience – i.e. getting your book out into the world.

Working one on one and in groups the workshop experience is structured to enable the exchange of ideas and expertise with peers as well as our international and New Zealand guests who are experienced photographers, photobook makers, editors and designers; able to offer practical advice to support the development of projects and inspiration to enable them to develop in new and surprising ways.


Toi Aria’s Anna Brown on design between spaces (excerpt)

And for a little about the other work I do that is not book- and editorial-related you can read this article by a graduate student of mine Rachel Knight who writes an excellent blog on Medium called Good Stuff. Read the full article here.

How was Toi Āria born out of a university environment?
It’s a very interesting time to be in any organisation in the world, but it’s been especially challenging for universities to adapt. For universities there are less students enrolling and no foreseeable increases in funding from government, so how does a university continue to deliver great things and evolve into a university of the 21st century?

Our view of what a university is, is changing and it’s something that all universities are grappling with.

When I arrived at Massey, Steve Maharey started as our Vice Chancellor, and he was really interested in entrepreneurship and looking at the space in between the university and the world. He enabled staff and the organisation to test out and try things; there was a real sense of ‘let’s give it a go.’

At the time we were doing a lot of work through Open Lab with government agencies and my understanding of what design could do in an environment changed. My interests evolved and grew into more complex projects, which weren’t appropriate for the Open Lab model of experiential learning for design students. After nearly five years heading up Open Lab, the Pro-Vice Chancellor of our College — Claire Robinson — asked me “What are you going to do next?”

I spent a good part of a year thinking about what I wanted to do, what is needed in the sector, what is needed in our world and what role I could play in all that with others. What I was most interested in was how we can change systems that aren’t working for people, and what value design can bring to that process. For a while, the biggest problem was that I didn’t know what to call it! Before something has a name, or a place, it’s like a porous membrane of ideas that doesn’t have any coherence.

Over a work dinner one night I was talking to my colleague Ngataiharuru Taepa, Director of Maori Arts, about what we were interested in. He asked, “Is it like baking a cake where you take a set of ingredients and measure them out to get a chemical reaction?” I said no, because it’s different every time. He said “OK, is it like the rocky seashore where there’s tidal currents coming in and out?” Yes — it’s much more like that.


So Toi Āria literally means ‘creative rock pool’. I think of all the creatures in the tidal rock pool as the people of New Zealand. What happens to them is dependant on what’s happening in the wider environment; a sea coming in could be political parties or economic factors  —  the variances of the environment affects them, but what is their role in it, and how can we enable them?

We were quite deliberate about not calling it a ‘Lab’, because we’ve done all sorts of labs around the university, so what’s next? In our college we’ve gone through a process of putting a pōwhiri framework around our curriculum, and through that process growing our understanding of Te Ao Māori so it felt really appropriate to be gifted a Māori name. As is often true, a Māori name seems to be able to encompass a much more complex set of ideas and concepts than English can.