In all Es does, the audience is an active participant, so the reader’s experience was central to her vision for the book. She wanted to push boundaries and engage the reader physically and mentally. At my first meeting with Es, I found myself in front of a printed flat plan measuring roughly three metres long. She had myriad ideas about the materials she wanted to use, with colours and bindings inspired by complex book samples – most of which were limited editions printed in Europe. She wanted a book that was alive and playful. A book that no one had seen before.
The biggest challenge was that we were not making a limited edition, but thousands of copies; we were also on a very tight schedule. Although the book was a skeleton at the end of 2022, we needed it in the warehouse nine months later, so we had to be strategic. The layout and materiality of the book were closely linked, so steps that would normally be consecutive were instead run simultaneously. Then printing, binding, quality control and delivery had to be reorganized to meet the deadline and I spent three weeks in China to press pass and ensure that the complex binding system was set up the right way.
The cube, one of the representations of Es’s set designs, was the starting point for Daniel Devlin, the book’s designer, when creating the layout. From that point, we took the reins working alongside Es and her team. The final book incorporates more than 800 pages of text and visuals with an alternation of different papers in varying weights and more unusual materials, like acetate and mirror sheets printed H-UV. The pages are of varying sizes and placement, involving complex folding numerous die-cuts, non-standard threads, a loose leaf inside a polybag placed at a specific position in the book, a bellyband, and a fluorescent box.