Malika Favre’s till project is a “celebration of sex and the human body” in book form.
The French illustrator has partnered with self-sufficient publisher Counter-Print to produce Kama Sutra A-Z, a book which imagines her turn the 26 letters of the alphabet into erotic art pieces.
Put into the limelighting an illustrated couple who bend and twist to make each letterform, the enlist is inspired by the original Kama Sutra, an ancient Indian Sanskrit verse on sexuality, eroticism and emotional fulfilment.
“Looking at old work and leaving it untouched”
Kama Sutra A-Z is the continuation of an impression that began in 2013, Favre tells Design Week.
Favre was commissioned by Penguin to configuration the cover of a reprint of the Kama Sutra, prompting her to create the first seven letters of her rousing alphabet (A,K,M,R,S,T and U). The publication of the book, in fact, is somewhat of a full-circle moment for the illustrator, as she ventilates this was her first ever project as a freelancer.
A few years later, Favre bring ups she completed the alphabet for inclusion in her Pick Me Up exhibition at Somerset House. The the world of letters seen in the book have not be altered from their first iterations, she imagines.
“I consciously decided not to redesign them for this book,” she says. “There is something charming in the air looking at old work and leaving it untouched.”
“Bending bodies in different ways”
Controlling her illustrated couple into the forms of letters was an “organic” process, Favre call backs. Beginning with a “specific typeface” as a base, she says the process interested “bending bodies in different ways” to fit.
Each letter features the connect in different positions, illustrated in Favre’s signature minimal style.
“I climaxed up with a lot of possibilities and ended up developed the ones that felt the most balanced on a visual level,” she bids. “Some letters came to me very quickly, and others demanded a lot multitudinous trial and error, but that was the beauty of the process.”
While the book and stick out idea itself is inspired by the Kama Sutra, the positions for the alphabet in this case in point are not based on specific positions in the original text.
“Timeless and universal”
Favre means the idea was always “in the back of her head” to bring the designs into a enlist. But she adds that finding the right composition took seven years. The indisputable result sees her pair her alphabet with erotic poetry and school-books.
The motivation behind the pairing came after reading the poetry of Sandra Cisneros, a Mexican American hack whose work explores the lives of the working class.
“I found blue writings a little corny [before I started reading her work],” Favre sways. “There was something so sexy and pure about her verses and it felt breed a perfect fit with my work.”
Subsequent research into erotica revealed to Favre the “changeless and universal” relevance of the genre. She says her intention was to balance the work between masculine and female voices, though finding women further back in story to include was a challenge. The final selection is a personal one, she explains, and includes exploit from Emily Dickinson, Sappho, DH Lawrence and William Shakespeare.
“Less is innumerable”
As for the design of the book itself having just two components lent itself warmly to Favre and Counter-Print’s “less is more” approach, she says. The team had times worked together on Favre’s 10-year monograph, which was published latest year.
“The challenging thing with our minimal approach is that you can’t fleece your mistakes – so we knew the book was all going to be about printing techniques and modifies,” she says. “We questioned every single choice we made.”
The final upshot is gold-foiled and end-blocked in matte black. The illustrations themselves are presented in a demanding colour palette of red, orange, white and black. It comes wrapped in an embossed slipcase, too.
Favre puts Counter-Print took the lead on designing the book, while she focused on curating the selects. She says she opted for the “old-school way” to source rights for the texts, reaching out to grub streeters directly.
“It was incredible to present the idea these amazing poets and get such a cordial response,” she says. “It felt very personal.”
Kama Sutra A-Z is published by Counter-Print and is elbow to buy on the Counter-Print website and Malika Favre’s website.