Designing Mark C. Taylor's "Recovering Place"

The following post is by Lisa Hamm, a senior designer at Columbia University Press, who worked with Mark C. Taylor on his new book Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill:

I received an e-mail from Mark Taylor asking if we could talk about his new book Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill and work through some ideas. The book was a personal one for Taylor that would integrate text with photographs, both artistic and documentary, of a major land-art-sculpture project that he was developing on his property. It included stone, metal, and bone sculptures; ponds; streams; and marble outcroppings.

I wasn’t surprised to receive this e-mail. I had designed three books by Mark Taylor for the Press, and we had developed an easy way of working together that allowed for informal discussions of ideas like this. He wanted to know what was possible, and I asked to see the manuscript and the art. The text consisted of about 100-plus small chapters along with several of Taylor’s own, striking photographs.

From a design point-of-view, the book and its subject matter presented some intriguing challenges. The book’s combination of artistic photographs with thoughtful, philosophical discussion and meditations needed to be handled in such a way that both the visual and the textual elements achieved their own distinctiveness. We wanted to create a design in which the images played off and illuminated the text in ways both direct and subtle.

Again, having worked with Mark on other books, we had developed a relationship that allowed us to collaborate on the book’s design and elements and we eventually met and discussed trim sizes and use of color to fit the book’s aims. It’s rare to work with an author four times, but it’s very satisfying when it happens. In this case, it contributed to an openness and a fluid work relationship that I hope resulted in an attractive book.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

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