Diana Balmori Notebooks


I spotted this at McNally Jackson Bookstore in NYC and couldn’t resist: a small paperback book/facsimile notebook full of drawings by landscape architect Diana Balmori. From the publisher’s website (which seems to be the only place to buy the book online):

“Notebooks is a record of sketches by Diana Balmori FASLA. Reflecting twenty years of thinking, drawing, and crafting, the book provides a window into the personal practice of landscape design.

Diana Balmori is an internationally renowned landscape and urban designer and the founder of the landscape design firm Balmori Associates.”

The original notebooks seem to have been mostly Moleskine Sketchbooks and Japanese Albums. Inside the book, you sometimes get a photo of the whole notebook page, sometimes even a fold-out spread. Other pages just have drawings. The whole book is just slightly larger than an actual pocket Moleskine, so you really feel like you are flipping through someone’s sketchbook as opposed to browsing through an art book.


The drawings themselves are very simple, quick sketches in pencil or crayon. Occasionally there are some notes added, but they are mostly just sketches without any explanation. I almost didn’t buy the book because the drawings seemed so rough– they’re not the kind of sophisticated sketchbook pages that you look at and aspire to imitate their design and skill level. But the more I looked at them, I thought that was a good thing. So many examples of sketchbook art seem too perfect, too finished. Instead of being inspiring, they can seem daunting to others who look at them and think “my sketchbook pages will never look that good!” Sketchbooks are supposed to be for experimentation and capturing ideas. They should be full of scribbles and mess and exploration– they should be about the process, not just the results, and they don’t have to be perfect.


That said, I wish there was a little more commentary with these sketches (as opposed to none)– if you’re going to put your sketchbook work in a book to be shared with the public, it helps to give the reader some idea what they’re looking at. But despite that, I’m glad I paid the rather steep price of $29 to add this unique little book to my collection.



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