With its monuments, grand boulevards, manicured gardens, and infinite beaux arts architecture, Paris is the quintessential beautiful city. But for graphic designer Louise Fili, it is the city’s signage that makes her heart swoon. “The Art Deco letterforms on the facade of an old laiterie or the delicate gold-leaf typography of a boulangerie can make me giddy with delight,” she writes in Graphique De La Rue, her new compendium from Princeton Architectural Press. “This book is my typographic love letter to Paris.”
The intrepid designer had already documented signage in Italy; publishing that tome sparked more wanderlust. Since her first visit to Paris at age 20, Fili has been fascinated with the city’s gorgeous signage for schools, patisseries, police stations, and more. Paris had to be next.
Fili prefers to photograph in early morning “when the city belongs to no one but me and a silent army of green-suited street cleaners,” she writes. “I race through the desolate streets, chasing down every photogenic sign, playing cat and mouse with the sun until about 10:30 a.m….I then plan the rest of my day—as the incessant flaneur around the city, making unexpected typographic discoveries.”
Her photographs capture the meticulous craftsmanship of mosaics, the sculpted metalwork from Art Nouveau metro stops, and the blocky Art Deco signage that compose the cityscape. It’s enough to make you want to pack your bags and trace Fili’s footsteps through the streets. For those who can’t jet off to France, Graphique de la Rue is available September 1 from Amazon.com.