Book List of the Week

Intimate Identities: Louise Fili’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter August 7, 2012

Louise Fili

Graphic Designer Louise Fili: Louise Fili Ltd (New York)

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For graphic designer Louise Fili, books play an outsize role. Her extensive body of work includes nearly 2,000 book jacket designs as well as numerous concepts for packaging, logos, and brand identities. Her latest book (she’s written or co-written more than 20 books), Elegantissima: The Design and Typography of Louise Fili, to be released in August by Princeton Architectural Press, is the first monograph to showcase the breadth of her career.

Fili’s elegant typography is often hand-drawn, a nuanced method of creating that finds parallels in the books that have influenced her. “Favorite books offer a certain intimacy,” she explains to Designers & Books in the introduction to her book list. “As a designer and teacher, I constantly rely on these books not only as a source of inspiration but also to share; I savor the excitement of introducing them to my staff and students.”

Among the books that serve as a source of inspiration for Fili are Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!) by George Lois (featured in a Designers & Books Author Q&A): “When legendary adman George Lois speaks, we all listen. I gave a signed copy to everyone on my staff.” There is also Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles 1628–1900 by Cees de Joong and Alston Purvis, about which she comments: “Every time I open it I find a new surprise.” For Fili, The Handy Book of Artistic Printing “is eye candy at its best,” and her “affection for food, type, and Italy” draws her to The Wine-Dark Sea by Leonardo Sciascia. “In 13 short stories, the brilliant Sciascia deftly captures the essence of Sicily,” she says.

Elegantissima: The Design and Typography of Louise Fili, forthcoming August 2012 (Princeton Architectural Press)

With a specialty in food packaging and restaurant menu and brand design, Fili has created packaging for best-selling products by companies such as Williams-Sonoma, redefined brands like Sarabeth’s, and developed recognizable logos for Jean-Georges and The Harrison, among several other notable New York restaurants. Her work frequently weds vintage and contemporary, an idea reflected in the comment for another book found on her list, Schriftenatlas by Ludwig Petzendorfer: “Although this book was published in 1898, the type samples always look remarkably fresh to me.”

The books that Fili herself has written include, among many other works on type, the recent Scripts: Elegant Lettering from Design’s Golden Age, co-authored with Steven Heller and published by Thames & Hudson in 2011.


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