Barbara Iwanicka and Vincent Hammingh get quizzed about the processes behind the graphic design of the new book – Spaces for Innovation by Kursty Groves and Oliver Marlow – affectionately known by the production team as 'SFI'.


How did you approach the design concept for the SFI book?
In our first meeting, the authors expressed their ambition of making a book that works like a manual for anybody interested in the formulating spaces that maximise levels of innovation. Taking up this challenge, we aimed to create a stimulating object in itself. The book is playing with juxtapositions between highly-curated and self-created content, therefore we have decided to use two contrasting paper stocks: a white, silk-coated paper and a cream-coloured paper that is airy and uncoated. Distinctive choice of typefaces balances the tension between 'long reads' and ‘infographic’ bits.

How is the iconic concept implemented throughout the whole book?
SFI is a text-heavy book, so to make it more approachable and 'lighter', the authors came up with the idea of infographics. We liked the idea a lot, adopted it quickly and extended it to an 'iconic' approach that guides the reader throughout the book but also unifies the content and gives the book a very strong identity. We wanted the book to be as inspired as the spaces discussed inside. The iconic concept is also implemented in the infographics – they explain data in a easily digestible way.

What were the challenges you faced as the designers of this title?
The biggest challenge was to distribute the content of the book and divide it into coated and uncoated paper sections. It needed to be constructed from eight- or sixteen-page sections, in a logical manner – some ingenious skills by the book’s editor were a huge help there. The book is written in a 'non- linear' format, however a lot of subjects refer to each other, so it was important to give the book a clear structure without losing its playfulness.

How do you envisage readers physically using the book?
SFI is a tool and should be used like one. You can read the book from cover to cover or simply open it at any page and let the navigation guide you and start exploring. You can read a chunk and skip to a related part of the book and add your own notes. It can be a playful and interactive experience. The book can also be used as a sketch book for new ideas and reflections.

The authors invite readers to write in the book: do you think people will?
Not many books are made with the idea of writing in it, so it might feel quite unnatural to do so. SFI is a tool, and like any tool it should be used in order to learn. We chose a very bulky, notebook-like paper to make the notion of sketching ideas or answering the questions posed by the authors almost irresistible. The book is light and fairly small so it's easy to handle and very practical to take with you in your bag, whilst commuting or to the park.

Would you opt for 'flaps in' or 'flaps out'?
For beginners, we would advise ‘flaps out’. They work as a legend and make reading and understanding of content much easier. Experienced readers might not need the flaps for reference, however, and can instead use them as bookmarks.

What’s your favourite quote in the book?
'Real creativity requires a kind of safe space, a place where you can break rules; a place where you can fail’ – this quote is by Allan Chochinov and you can read his interview on p.121.

Do you have a favourite icon or infographic and why?
Unfortunately our favourite icon didn't make it into the book. It is a bit naughty and inappropriate for young readers. ;-) Our second favourite is the 'smiley' bibliography icon; it makes the book smile at you every time you glance at it. That might result in a very special connection between the object and its owner.


Answers by Barbara Iwanicka and Vincent Hammingh, the graphic designers of Spaces for Innovation – now on sale. You might also be interested in getting some insight from the authors of the book too, see here. & you can meet them also, at the book launch in London on 22 July. Entry is free, through tickets are limited. To be sure of reserving your place, go here to book without delay!