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If Walls Could Talk

Jan D’Esopo, a brilliant, talented, “Renaissance-type” artist approached Maremar with the request that she wanted us to design a “book that is not a book”. Owner of The Gallery Inn– Bed & Breakfast in Old San Juan, Jan wanted her guests to be able to take “a part of the experience of having stayed there with them”.

The challenge was multifaceted: The Gallery Inn is a world of its own. D’Esopo has imbued the house with her artwork and personality to such a point that you are actually unable to determine where one starts and the other one ends. The multiple layers of information had to be conveyed in such a manner that the reader could be magically transported into this unique space in time.

To solve an unconventional problem you need to take unconventional approaches. It was decided that the House was going to be the narrator of the book. The story-line was divided into four-page vignettes; each spoke of a different aspect of the houses’ (and Jan’s) personality. By creating photomontages that combined actual pieces of Jan’s original artwork with old and new photographs, the reader is able to experience the complexity of this multifaceted environment and catch a glimpse of Jan’s profound relationship with this house.

The tactile aspect of the experience was addressed with the selection of the materials and the binding. A horizontal, scrapbook type sewn book was developed where vignettes of French folded textured pages are divided by smooth chapter markers. This technique was used to create the tactile sensation necessary to enhance the visual aspect of the piece. To finish off this masterpiece, Jan created an original three-dimensional plaque, hand painted by her and adhered one to the cover of the book. Each book is signed, numbered, and delivered in a custom-made box that has a small window through which the viewer can catch a glimpse of the cover.

This very fulfilling project enabled us to share part of an incredible artist’s life and successfully meet all her expectations. She has a multiple-award winning book “that is not a book” that is a must-have momento for all her visitors. 

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