Design Inspiration: Scripts. Elegant Lettering From Design’s Golden Age, by Steven Heller and Louise Fili

I discovered new inspirational typography book Scripts on the Thames and Hudson stand at the London Book Fair, and it's so wonderful I thought I'd better share it with you... featuring a quick Q&A with co author Steven Heller.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Scripts Thames and Hudson-cover

I’m always a sucker for lush books, and so when I spotted Scripts on the shelf at the Thames and Hudson stand at the London Book Fair I immediately snuck up and took a quick pic, and then I tweeted about it. And Thames and Hudson got back to me straight away to see if I would like to receive a preview copy. Now that, my friends, is how you do good social media PR. Scripts did indeed turn up in the post just a few days later: a huge doorstop wedge of a book, full of inspiring samples of scripts, found on everything from shop fronts to match boxes to letterheads to postcards.

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The book was put together by author and graphic design specialist Steven Heller and his wife Louise Fili, who is a New York based graphic designer who specialises in food packaging and restaurant identities. Steven has published many other books with Thames and Hudson, including Graphic Style, Handwritten, New Ornamental Type and New Vintage Type. He also runs The Daily Heller design blog. You can follow Louise Fili’s blog here.

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All of the ephemera that is to be found inside the pages of Scripts comes from the couple’s own collections… giving me hope that one day I too might be able to turn my mass of collected visual matter into a book as well. It’s an unmissable mound of inspiration – a must for any illustrator or graphic designer who likes to salivate over type. Scripts is published on 16th May 2011. Steven Heller was kind enough to answer a few of my questions:

On what basis did you choose the imagery in the book?
Scripts is entirely from our collections – Louise and I collect material on our own and pool it when we work on books. The selection was based solely on allure, so it is a contrasting assembly of material. We first took inspiration from what we had in our existing caches, then bought specific items in France, Italy, etc., to fill gaps. We had lots of type specimen sheets, but needed more sheet music, for instance.

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Where does the imagery come from? Have you been collecting things for many years?
For the past 25 plus years we’ve accumulated “stuff.” Much of it we’ve used in our various books on graphic design history. One excuse for over-stuffing ourselves is that it serves a scholarly good. 

Scripts butterfly

What is your personal favourite page?
That’s like saying which is the ugly duckling – or maybe not. But they are all valuable in different ways. It is the critical mass that makes this book startling. But if I had to choose . . . . NO, can’t do it. 

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Do you have any pieces on your wall?
We have lots of things on our walls (or standing up on easels). Louise has the St. Raphael sign in her studio.  Also the gorgeous Impermeabili poster and the French Button Cards are framed too. 

Scripts FcoOlivero

How do you hope that people will use this book?
It’s a good question. This is a book of inspiration but also of appreciation. We hope that people will look at the material with the same ‘joy’ and ‘awe’ as we did when we found them. But as noted, although this is NOT a history book, we hope it will lead to an interest in design history as seen through the lens of this very narrow aperture. Scripts were used for various reasons, not the least of which to aid the capitalist economic system. Graphic design is not neutral, everything has a meaning and purpose. 

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