Designers, typographers, illustrators and letterers the world over will already be familiar with the work of Louise Fili. Her book covers, restaurant identities, food packaging labels and lettering have defined excellence in typography since the mid-1980s. No matter how much of her work you may have spent countless hours reviewing it is unlikely that you understand her as well as you will after reading Elegantissima: The Design & Typography of Louise Fili.
Elegantissima is divided into 6 different sections that follow a loose chronological time table of Louise’s career. Starting with her career in publishing, the sections are: books, restaurants, packaging, identities, designer/author and posters & postage. The work presented in each section gives you a great idea of just how much has gone into her prolific career and will keep you turning the pages while wondering what possibly could come next.
Each section contains a series of case studies with personal stories about the projects, which is where you really start to understand where Louise was coming from and how she created the work. Referencing her work for Irving Farm:
A generic silver coffee bag with a logo designed by a boat painter (yes, a boat painter) made it clear that an intervention was in order. We agreed to print one coffee bag with separate flavor stickers. The bag design, which reinterpreted some elements from an original sticker that was a sentimental favorite, employed engravings and a hand-tooled font.
The book is, of course, amazingly well-designed and laid out and the production quality is on par with the excellence of the work shown within. With right at 250 pages the book does a great job of covering more than just the highlights of Louise’s career and is written almost entirely in her own words, which is what makes it so personal and intriguing.
Out of all of the pieces shown in the book, the ones that moved me the most as examples of Louise’s eye for detail and excellence were her designs for copyright pages. Normally one of the most boring pages in any book, she chose to use the details on the page to illustrate images relative to the stories in the book rather than just tell you when and where it was published. She carried the idea through to this book as well and the copyright page inside is the icing on top of the cake, even though it’s at the beginning.