Anyone questioning the role of the printed book today should consider the resurgence of exquisitely conceived and produced design books this year. Here at Felt & Wire, we’ll be covering quite a few noteworthy examples in months to come. One book deserves to be at the crest of this welcome wave: Marian Bantjes’ I Wonder.
Those unfamiliar with Bantjes’ adventures in type, design, ornament and all forms of visual meaning may want to experience them first in I Wonder. Those of us who know her work will recognize the magic with which she transforms quotidian objects into experiences that cause us to re-examine our surroundings and lives with, well, wonder.
I Wonder rises above the usual design book in the way Bantjes marries her text — a deeply considered set of essays on topics such as Wonder, Ornament, Honor, the Alphabet — with the shapes and patterns her imagination enters to reveal layers of meaning. Again, those of us familiar with her art will not be surprised at how she uses everyday elements to capture profound thoughts. In Bantjes’ world, there is really no boundary between text and ornament, message and medium, everyday and profound. What I found most rewarding about I Wonder, though, is that instead of merely impressing or (worse) intimidating, the book is a testament to the artist/author’s belief in the ultimate democracy of the act of creation.
Which is to say that riding on Bantjes’ wave of wonder is a thrilling experience in which anyone can participate. In one of her essays she asks herself, “What am I honouring with my work and why?” She is honoring us — as readers and appreciators of her gift. I Wonder is a book of, in Bantjes’ words, “meaning and worth.” [TB]
All images © 2010 Marian Bantjes