Book design for photographer Ramya Reddy’s project about the Nilgiris.
Soul of the Nilgiris is a labour of love and an ode to the magic mountain light. It’s the story of a place told through a personal tapestry of oral narratives, conversations, writings and over 300 photographs — taken over nine years, drawn from the creative abundance of this millennia-old mountain land and her centuries-old inhabitants.
The book traverses the cultural, ecological, colonial and the now drastically altered landscape of the Blue Mountains situated in the Western Ghat region of southern India, while attempting to draw attention to the lives of its indigenous people and the synergistic way in which they were attuned to the natural world. Their lifestyles are based on a respectful, reciprocal orientation and a sacred relationship with their land and there is a dire need to give voice to the relevance of this knowledge to the times we live in.
Dia from Schick Toikka was chosen as the body typeface, to give a contemporary edge to the design. A monospaced typeface, Virgo, still unreleased from Sharp Type, was used in captions and poems, resembling old typewriter letters and journal entries. The typeface used on the cover and for chapter openings, Eduardo Rennó’s Cantoria, references old British tea packaging and connects with the found botanical illustration engravings.
The layout has a structure where images appear at the bottom of pages, creating a journey. It is broken at special moments, with larger or full bleed images, to add an interesting rhythm. We used a rough uncoated bulky paper, Munken Lynx, in order to give a natural feeling to the touch. It also is low in weight so that the book stays light despite the large format and the more than 300 pages.