Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously


By Nathalie Du Pasquier
Edited and designed by Omar Sosa

From its upper case title artwork punctuated with full stops to its red lightning bolt cover design, Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously, a collection of Nathalie Du Pasquier’s drawings from 1981-87, is visually arresting from start to finish. Like the boxes Du Pasquier has been storing her archive of drawings in for the past few decades, Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously is brimming full with material, and presents in a crisp, new light the work Du Pasquier produced during her time as a founding member of Memphis Group.

It is immediately apparent from the book that, in collecting and arranging her drawings from twenty-five years ago, Du Pasquier is far from nostalgic, nor does she seem to be looking for the reverential treatment of a mid-career retrospective. Her drawings, which were the starting point for clothing, watches, jewellery, ceramics, luggage, rugs and furniture, are grouped into themed sections, each with a simple and often reflective commentary by Du Pasquier herself, and arranged in ascending order according to their scale – starting with small items designed for the body and ending with architectural cityscapes. In this sense, Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously expresses something of the process by which the book was created.

Working in collaboration with Apartamento founder, Omar Sosa, whose role was both editor and designer, Du Pasquier describes in Emily King’s interview how making the book was a process of discovery for them both: “I was seeing my old drawings through [Sosa’s] eyes, which was funny. It made me like them more. I realised they were interesting.” For Sosa, who knew only Du Pasquier’s most recent paintings after encountering them online, the discovery of Du Pasquier’s drawings from the very beginning of her career was an invitation into a different world, where Aztec-like headsets and Egyptian-inspired televisions combined with clothing as bold as Bauhaus theatre costumes. The editorial process is overtly referred to throughout the book through over-sized page numbers, essay word counts and synopsis-like chapter headings, as if to remind the reader that this isn’t a replica sketchbook or thorough catalogue in front of us, but rather an opportunity to hear Nathalie Du Pasquier tell the story of her own work.

Du Pasquier’s story emphasises how her drawings were as much an end as the products they translated into, and the pivotal role local manufacturers played in realising her paper-based visions. Her story also reflects upon the recent past, reconsidering how unusual her experience was of designing as part of Memphis in comparison to designing for clients; and points out the irony of her collection with partner George Sowden called ‘Objects for the Electronic Age’ that although futuristic in their aesthetic, were low-tech and artisanal in their manufacture. Du Pasquier notes her obsession with surface and the journey it took her on, from her early Memphis patterns, that defined the aesthetics of the post-modern era, to complex Japanese-inspired designs; and the way in which surfaces of rugs or furniture, can transform an entire space. What Du Pasquier doesn’t care to explain is the nature of her imagery, or the meaning of it. Instead, she lets her images do the talking.

Pen and pencil drawings are precisely reproduced on the book’s clean uncoated paper, and are carefully placed in relation to facing drawings or full-bleed reproductions of Du Pasquier’s distinctive pattern designs. In Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously, Letraset spots and stripes, expressive felt pen strokes, liquid blobs of paint, sharp stencilled areas of colour and detailed pen work all feel like they are at the reader’s fingertips. The timeless vitality of Nathalie Du Pasquier’s drawings, in combination with Omar Sosa’s fresh perspective on them, makes Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously an inspiring resource that demonstrates how, through drawing, Nathalie Du Pasquier imagines the future by merging what she has seen with what she is presently discovering. In Du Pasquier’s own words: “They were serious sketches but they shouldn’t be taken seriously”.

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From the Publisher

Nathalie Du Pasquier started drawing as soon as she met her husband George Sowden in 1979 in Milan. She was introduced to the world of design and shortly after, in 1981, became a founding member of the iconic postmodern design movement Memphis. From 1981 to 1987 she didn’t stop drawing. Every day she would draw a whole new modern world, from very small items like jewelry to entire cities. This world only existed in her head but would eventually be developed into real pieces for the Memphis exhibitions.

This unique book is the first and definitive compilation of all the unpublished drawings from those years, which had been sitting in the drawers of Nathalie’s studio for over 30 years. Organized by the smallest objects to the biggest and divided into chapters, each with a text by Nathalie, it has been carefully edited and designed by Apartamento magazine’s co-founder Omar Sosa together with Nathalie Du Pasquier.

Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously is an excellent reference for future generations and a welcome document of an important period in modern design.

Published by powerHouse Books
ISBN 9781576877548

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