Wednesday, 12:00pm
9 November 2011

Why we ♥ St Bride

becky chilcott
ben weiner
rob banham
Design history
Graphic design

Reasons for loving London’s printing and graphics library

In anticipation of ‘Critical Tensions’, the St Bride annual conference taking place tomorrow and Friday, we asked three key people who work (voluntarily) behind the scenes to tell us why they love St Bride Library.

Top and below: Photographs from a letterpress workshop at the library last Christmas. See ‘Inky fingers’ on the Eye blog.

Rob Banham, lecturer, University of Reading
‘For me St Bride is a special place for two very simple reasons. Firstly, the Library is free for anyone to use – where else can you walk in off the street and ask to see a Baskerville bible, Eric Gill type drawings and the latest issue of Eye? Secondly, the specialist staff who run the Library are friendly, approachable and extremely knowledgable.

‘Over the past decade the lectures, exhibitions and conferences held at St Bride have become increasingly popular and its stature in the design community is growing. Long may that continue because it is only with the support of those in the industry that St Bride will be able to serve future generations of students, designers, illustrators, printers and writers.’

Below: Photographs from Graphic Design: History in the Making at St Bride Library (6 May 2011). See ‘Look behind you’ on the Eye blog.


Below: Phil Baines at St Bride, with a copy of Eye 34, which includes his article ‘A design (to sign roads by)’ about the British road sign system.


Ben Weiner, information designer / developer
‘I was asked to help update the Library’s website about ten years ago and was soon drawn further in. St Bride has tremendous collections, which only increase in value and diversity as time goes by, yet in the past it was always lightly funded and left largely alone.

‘It’s always been fascinating, often been frustrating and sometimes been extremely rewarding to help St Bride establish a more appropriate place in the world of print and graphics; a place that will enable a much greater number of people to discover and enjoy it.’

Becky Chilcott, illustrator / designer
‘I first stumbled across St Bride about six years ago and was surprised to find so much more than a collection of books and moveable type behind the red brick walls. Inside I found a community of like-minded, passionate people that I could talk to about type, design, printing and everything else in between without getting the odd glances my friends usually give me. It has become a fantastic place to escape work for a few hours when I’m in need of inspiration.’

Jonathan Barnbrook’s identity design for ‘Critical Tensions’.


Critical Tensions is curated by Eye editor John Walters and Becky Chilcott, and features Timo Arnall (BERG), Phil Baines, Emily King, Jonathan Barnbrook, Zoë Bather, Tom Farrand, Amelia Gregory, Matt Jones, Alan Kitching, Gerry Leonidas, Vaughan Oliver, Paul Rennie, Lucienne Roberts, Steve Watson, Marina Willer, Rebecca Wright and Derek Yates. Demonstrators include Paul Antonio (calligraphy), Douglas Bevans (bookbinding), Mark Frith (stonecutting), Helen Ingham and Richard Lawrence (typesetting, linocutting, printing).

There will be an Eye stall where you can come and chat to members of the Eye team (including Janet, new editorial intern Dannalie, John and the award-winning Simon Esterson).

See also ‘Back to front’, in which Granta artistic director Michael Salu explains why he went to the library to make the cover for Granta no. 111.

10 > 11 November 2011
Critical Tensions
St Bride Library


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop. The new issue, Eye 81 is on its way to subscribers and bookstores worldwide – see Eye Before You Buy for a visual sample.

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