Ian Fleming and the art of book design

Those who blinked and missed the Royal Mail’s set of stamps featuring James Bond covers back in January should rush to a new exhibition opening next week. Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and the Art of Cover Design is just one part of the author’s centenary celebrations taking place this year, but for designers, it promises to be the best. Covering all of Ian Fleming’s books and a range of archive material, the focus of the show will be firmly on the James Bond novels, beginning with Fleming’s own design for the first one, Casino Royale, published in 1953, and including two subsequent titles art directed by the author, Live and Let Die and Moonraker. The former features the neo-Victorian lettering typical of the then-popular Festival of Britain style, the latter introduces Kenneth Lewis’s flame pattern that would become an integral element of Maurice Binder’s classic 007 titles. What the exhibition clearly shows is how these covers stand strong in their own right, but also combine to paint a fascinating portrait of Britain over the past 60 years. Their designs clearly illustrated Britain’s fast-changing moral attitudes and cultural shifts as designers quickly began to expose the innate animal magnetism of the hero and make obvious a nation’s desire to engage openly with issues such as sex, style, power and politics. The exhibition will incorporate Fleming’s literary legacy with Bond spin-offs by other authors, right up to the yet to be released Devil May Care, Sebastian Faulks’s tribute to Fleming. Like a perfect full stop to the dialogue created by the covers, the cover is designed by The Partners, and features Rankin muse and model Tuuli Shipster, who is a diplomat’s daughter in real life. Fleming couldn’t have made it up. Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and the Art of Cover Design runs from 22 April to 28 June at the Fleming Collection, 13 Berkeley Street, London W1 For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond is on at London’s Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE10 until 1 March 2009

Devil May Care is published on 28 May by Penguin books

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