FK chats to Katy & Kuba who share a great love of all things books with their gorgeous bookish label Desire Books!
Tell us about your label Desire Books and what the concept is behind it?
Desire Books is a secondhand bookshop in Manly. Selling books in a shop is not a straightforward assignment in this changing world; but we think that there’s something good and ineffable and important about the cultural idea of a bookshop, so we’re constantly experimenting with other things that The Bookshop might become. We run a lot of culture-building projects through the shop, and try to find lots of other ways that we can be of use to our local creative community. The range of products has really come straight out of that set of concerns.
What is your background and how did you get started working with ‘bookish inspired’ designs?
We’re both artists and makers as well as book dealers, so we set about making nice stuff to express some of the qualities we found embodied in our favourite customers. It all really started with the book posters. We watched so many rare and gorgeous editions disappear into people’s private collections, and we found that we missed having them around; so we started taking their portraits before they left us. It meant that we could kinda spread a rare book’s soul around a bit, and give everybody a chance to own a little piece of the first edition of On The Road, for example.
What inspires your work? and what keeps you motivated creatively?
The patches are fun to make, and we love seeing them out on the world! We also love books as objects, and for the worlds they contain. We try to remind people, through the things we make, that books are beautiful, and bookshops are worth bringing with us as we move into the future. Plus, patches just make us really happy! There’s lots to love in a patch: it can be an award, a directive, a reminder, a secret handshake, a dress-up prop, a one-liner. Some of our patches, like Find The Others, refer to things that writers have said, others, like Dance Motherfucker, are just plain bossy. Essentially, we see them as a way for bookish folk to find and hold hands with each other in the whirling dark.
What is your creative workspace like, and what inspires you about your surroundings?
It’s funny you should ask; we’ve just finished building a brand new workspace in the backyard! Until last month, we made everything in our lounge room; so this is beyond exciting. Having a dedicated space to make things seems like an almost unbelievable luxury. For the past few years we’ve been amassing tools and materials for our hypothetical studio, and it was beginning to feel like it might never actually get built. But it’s finally finished! So now, I imagine we’ll expand our range, and we’ll also embark on other creative projects. We’re both performance and installation artists as well, and we have a burning drive to make giant, gorgeous, impractical things that no-one in their right mind will ever buy!
What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
Our main challenge, in the two years that we’ve been making Desire’s products, has been time. Between owning the bookstore, running all the workshops and events, making the products and parenting two small people, we have definitely found ourselves stretched thin. But it’s also an interesting time to be answering this question; we very recently sold the bookshop side of the business to a friend of ours, which will enable us to give a lot more time and energy to our creative projects. We’ll still be connected to the bricks-and-mortar store, hosting workshops and events, but we won’t be so involved in its day-to-day running. This will free us up a lot.
What new projects are you working on and where would you like to see Desire Books in the future?
We’re currently working on some more image-based patch designs; and we’re also talking to designers we know, with labels of their own, about limited-edition collaborations. At the moment we have several stockists, but we’d really like to grow that side of things. It feels like 2014 is going to be a big year for Desire Books, both the shop and the label!