Shape Shift

A spatial celebration takes form in our Shape Shift series. Reproducing an original work by designer Pierre Legrain (1889–1929), this cover brings a sense of movement to the heavy geometric elements of its Art Deco influence.

Legrain was a key figure in early 20th-century French bookbinding but began his career in illustration, theatre design and cabinetmaking. After leaving the French Army in 1916, Legrain became recognized for his eye for design and was commissioned by Jacques Doucet, a French bibliophile and collector, to create unique bindings for Doucet’s impressive library. Adopting an attitude of experimentation, Doucet encouraged Legrain to be “freely inspired by contemporary artists’ vibrantly coloured mosaics, bold play with geometric forms and straight-lined bands.”

Legrain’s works, often using exotic materials, have revolutionized the relatively staid world of bookbinding, finding their way into the collections of art and architecture enthusiasts around the world. This modern mosaic design is now proudly a part of the Spencer Collection at The New York Public Library. We are honoured to share Legrain’s unique vision as part of our collection.