Design’s delight is a book of which as well the content as the design are by Jan van Toorn, a dutch graphic designer. The aim of his book is to question and to comment the way designers work now. You can tell this by both the content and the way it is designed.
The cover of the book is rather simple, but shows already some of the characteristics of the graphic designs of Jan van Toorn. Various thicknesses of letters have been used, to make distinctions between different sorts of text, the text in the top right corner, for example, is shown as well in English as in Dutch, but to divide these two the English part has been set in bold type.
Another characteristic of Jan van Toorns design is making a text that should incite the reader to “active reading”. He does this by putting the text on a page in different directions, you can see this at the bottom of the cover, where the text has been put upside down, but also at the sides of the cover, where the text has been turned. This stimulates the reader to read the book in an active way, by having to turn it around to read everything it says.
The first pages of the book are used to offer an introduction to the further part of the book. Different pages has been used to write the sentence “design is a good idea desperately seeking images and other forms of truth”, which actually is the core idea behind the book. By spreading the sentence over a few pages, more attention of the reader is asked to figure out exactly which point is made. With every page, a new word is added. Again the text is shown in both English and Dutch, and these two are again divided by setting them in different thickness and types.
After the introducing pages the book continues with an essay on ‘thinking the visual’, placed on the page in a simple, clear way, again both in English and Dutch in different typefaces. Still, in the essay, van Toorn keeps adding sentences that have been turned around in the middle of the pages, and the pages after the essay are filled with little pieces of text that have been placed in an almost collage-like way, spread out and turned around over the pages, sometimes even combined with images, encouraging the reader to turn the book around and play with the book in order to read what it says.
After this part, the biggest text part of the book, van Toorn starts working out the main idea of his book, showing it in a lot of pages filled with different images that have been taking from media like newspapers, television, magazines and various advertisements. Every single thing that is shown in these media has been given a form by a designer. The book is on the role of this designer, and the influence a designer has on the way information is given. In these pages, the most important part of the book, Jan van Toorn explores the opportunities of the role of a designer. He makes various juxtapositions of images from different media, and by doing this he adds a different meaning to them, encouraging the reader to think about these different meanings, and, indirectly, the role of the designer who puts these images together.
Most of the pages exist of one big image, shown as a spread, only leaving some white space at the bottom of the pages, where text is shown. Across most of the images other images have been places, but the design changes a lot, sometimes only 1 images are shown or images are placed next to each other in a row. The text below the images, again, has been placed upside down and turned around. Because the text is below the image you make, as a reader, a connection between the two, as if the text is a description of the image shown above. Which often is not the case, but the texts mostly illustrates the meaning of the juxtaposition of the images shown in the pages.
Also a number is shown in this white space, indicating the current chapter you are in, and the title of this chapter is always shown in the top left corner of the right page. At every first page of a new chapter the title of the chapter is also shown in handwritten letters, next to the number of the chapter. Because of this continuous showing of the chapter you are in, there is something that you can hold on to during the reading of the book, because of the chaos of the combination of all the different images, in which a lot happens and which contain a lot of colors, you would otherwise easily lose grip of what you’re reading.
The next part of the book is again a small text part, on the method and means of dialogic practice. It is designed in a similar way as the essay at the beginning on the book, but now the English and Dutch part are not divided in two columns on the same page, but one page is filled with English and the other with Dutch. The same typefaces are used again to make the separation.
After this text part different pages are used to write one sentence, just as in the beginning of the book. The design is very similar, only the sentence and the images behind it are different, but as a reader you understand directly that it refers to the start of the book.
The last part of the book is the afterword, which is designed the same as the preceding text part.
The book has a glue binding, and because the book contains a lot of images the spine of the book has a blend of all different kinds of colors, which kind of reminds you of newspapers and magazines, and it might as well be a reference to these media, where the images in the book are coming from. You can unfold a part of the back of the cover, which at the inside shows a poster-like design of a text in different sizes. At the outside of this part, the part that is the last page of the book when it isn’t unfold, the colophon and the contents of the book are shown.
All in all, I think the design of the book serves it’s content very well. The combinations of the images and text are very well done, they complement each other on every page. The basic design is very continuous throughout the book, which works very well because the chaos of the images keeps changing. Design’s delight by Jan van Toorn was an intriguing book to research, because of both its content as its design.