July 6, 2007

Katsumi Komagata's Gorgeous Baby Books


Japanese graphic designer Katusmi Komagata began creating books for babies and children when he became a father himself. Like Bruno Munari, whose iconic childrens' titles no doubt serve as an inspiration, Komagata's books are actually designed objects, with die-cuts, different types and colors of paper, as well as pictures and words. They look incredible.

On her sweet, new book design blog, Book By It's Covers, artist Julia Rothman gets all excited about Green To Green, Yellow To Red, and Blue To Blue, which tell the adventures of animals exploring multi-colored, multi-layered, die-cut worlds. Those are best for kids to read with adults.

But Komagata's also made a whole series of incredible baby books. Little Eyes are die-cut cards that open up, fold around, and turn over, little sets of beautiful baby brochures more than just books. They range from simple black and white patterns and designs for a newborn, to booklets with graduated pages [like the Hungry Caterpillar's diet] which tell little stories.

When the French city of Grenoble wanted to bring more babies and toddlers into the municipal libraries, they launched "Un livre, un bébé", a campaign which provided a specially commissioned Komagata book to all the kids born in the city in 2004. [There are still some left.]

The kicker, though, has to be Ca y est je vais naître/I'm Gonna Be Born, which uses translucent pages to tell the story of birth from the baby's point of view. That's right, it's My First Birth Canal.

If there's a quarrel with Komagata's books, it's that, unless you're giving birth in the Alps, they're not widely distributed. haven't found a US source yet, but Form and Colours is a specialist distributor for Komagata's books in the UK and Europe, where each Little Eyes book is £18.40. [Oh, also, they're expensive. At $375 for all ten, these may be the kids books you never let the kid touch.] Trois Ourses is his French publisher, if buying in Euros feels cheaper. Buying in yen definitely feels cheaper, because it is: Komagata's Japan-only website has books for half the price. No wholesale, I guess.

Green to Green review, just one of many stunning children's book finds [book-by-its-cover.com via mark from sparkability]
Katsumi Komagata on Form and Colour [formandcolour.com]
Katsumi Komagata's studio, One Stroke [one-stroke.co.jp, in japanese]


I swear I saw some of these at Pomme in Brooklyn.

They look gorgeous but what insane indidual creates an £18.40 book for a new born? Unless they're made out of industrial strength cardboard.

Although, if the book isn't made is steel. My daughter will rip it like a shark with BBQ sauce.

The style and quality of this book makes me think of the gorgeous and slightly bizarre book Animus by Seonna Hong.

We got it in LA for the girls, but have no intention of letting them see it for a while. Maybe I should get a few Komagata books, stick it with this and all the Richard McGuire I bought after your post last December! Nothing better than a dad's blog to inspire you to buy but not give design friendly books for your kids.

Katsumi Komagata's books are meant to be shared between the baby/toddler/child (depending on the book) and the parent. The sharing of discoveries and fun for better and deeper comunication and "quality time". The children are not meant to be left alone with those books. (But of course the books are so good you really want to have them for yourself :-) ).

Annette Low (one of Katsumi's distributors, www.formandcolours.com))

i like the design of your book. it is imaginative and bright.

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