It would take you more than six years to try every restaurant recommended in a new book called Where Chefs Eat, even if you ate at a new joint every day. Pitched as the insider’s guide to food in each major city in the world, the Phaidon-published book contains over 2,300 recommendations culled from chefs like David Chang and Daniel Boulud.
For designer Kobi Benezri, the book’s hyperbolic scope was an invitation to experiment with an equally dense graphic identity. The former I.D. art director found an unlikely precedent in British phone books from the 1950s and ’60s, where space was sold at a premium and font variation stood in for images. “Every square inch of the books were covered with paid advertising,” Benezri explains.
Like those 60-year-old phone books, Benezri’s design lets the content spill out onto every available surface in the book. There are at least 10 individual typefaces and text boxes on the front cover alone, plus printing on the spine and the page edges. “The cover is exhaustively typographic,” says the Jerusalem-born designer, “with type all over the front, the spine, back, and paper edges–top, bottom, and side.”
All in all, there are more than 50 unique fonts in the book, several of which were custom designed by Benezri’s studio, but all of the individual listings were set in Bell Centennial–AT&T’s proprietary typeface designed by Matthew Carter in the 1970s. The phonebook metaphor even extended to the printing process: Where Chefs Eat was printed with a single ink, process black, the unsaturated color that represents the K in the CMYK commercial printing standard.
It’s a smart appropriation of a largely forgotten type of commercial design, and it’s perfectly tuned to the content of the book–unpretentious, honest, and encyclopedic. Plus, all that cost-cutting pays off: The 730-page, hardcover book is just $19.95 at Phaidon’s store.