Alyson Kuhn

Antonio Alcalá & Michael Dyer score a coup for abstract design

[Alyson Kuhn] Earlier this week, I received a large mailer bearing two perfectly abstract stamps. Above, you see a detail of one of them. If I hadn’t already known about these stamps, I would have thought, “Those Europeans! Why can’t we have designs like these?” Well, thanks to Antonio Alcalá, who art directed, and Michael Dyer, who designed the undulating patterns—We the People have not just two abstract stamps, but four. Fun for us!

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Paris Relié, as seen by contemporary bookbinders

[Alyson Kuhn] I saw several exhibitions on my recent trip to Paris, including two hyper-crowded blockbusters. Happily, I also made it to a petit bijou, a three-week-only international bookbinding exhibition in the lovely town hall on Place St. Sulpice. Here’s the supreme serendipity: The theme of the exhibition was Paris itself. Every binder—138 of them—bound a previously published book about Paris: poetry, photography, drawings, history, fiction, nonfiction. Christian Frégé, the president of the ARA France (Les Amis de la Reliure d’Art, the national association of hand bookbinders), began his preface to the exhibition catalog with Ernest Hemingway’s quote: “Paris is a moveable feast.” For me, the exhibition was a banquet, one the catalog allows me to savor again and again—and to share with you.

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Got MUJI? John Madere gets close to the source

[Alyson Kuhn] I am a big fan of MUJI, the Japanese company that sells an incredible range of well-designed stuff. Until several months ago, the handful of MUJI stores in North America were all in New York. Then, at 11 a.m on Nov. 30, 2012, MUJI was set to open in San Francisco, and I planned to be there. Early that morning, I was on the phone with photographer John Madere in New York. We’ve shopped together at a couple of MUJI locations in NYC, and when I told him about the grand opening, he told me about a special MUJI he had found in Tokyo—appropriately called Found MUJI.

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‘Look at this cool paper loot,’ she exclaimed.

[Alyson Kuhn] This post is my salute-to-spring paper fling thing, showcasing my current favorite notecards and their colorful friends. The cards are so lively, I don’t even like to keep them closed up in their boxes. Some of them are companions to current books; others are vintage advertising images.  Furthermore »

The Postal Service delivers for all of us

[Alyson Kuhn] When I returned home recently after a few days away, my post office box contained three package notices and several pieces of good mail, all of which I’m going to show you. Mail doesn’t have to be arty for me to consider it good; it doesn’t even have to be particularly personal. A check is good; a prescription is good; the newest New Yorker magazine is good. A great card is good; if it comes with an interesting note, it’s really good.  A letter does not have to be long to be good, but it does have to be legible. Amusing or informative enclosures are always a plus. It is, in fact, a thought-provoking enclosure that has inspired me to write this piece.

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Patty Grazini fashions rich lives out of paper

[Alyson Kuhn] Patty Grazini researches noteworthy people from the past—the tallest girl of the 19th century, a series of quirky criminals—and brings them back to life as intricate paper sculptures. Her figures are usually between 12 and 18 in. tall, but for her most recent exhibition, The Life of the Giantess, the central figure topped the 7-ft. mark. We had a chance to ask Grazini where she gets her ideas—and her papers.

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