"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue
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Open Here

06 Apr 2002

Open Here is a fabulous collection of artwork from instruction manuals and airplane evacuation cards. It includes examples that span the evolution of printed instructions over the last century or so. See how the look of desktop radios has changed from having no knobs, to dozens of knobs, back to no knobs. Read quaint condescending instructions addressed to the proud new (female) owners of a frost free freezer. This is not a book for scholars; it's one for those who have ever stared at a twice-translated IKEA instruction sheet and wondered whether it was really for some other product.

Who: Paul Mijksenaar, Piet Westendorp
What: Open Here: The Art of Instructional Design
Where: Nicholas Hoare, Front Street, Toronto
When: Early January 2000
Why: It was the weekend, some time after Christmas. I was wandering up and down Front Street, trying to take a decent picture of the St. Lawrence Market (failed. Ended up taking mysteriously arty pictures of an old fire escape. Whoopie.) Nicholas Hoare is a very comfortable bookstore with lots of books on display. That's important. If you can't see the books' covers, how are you supposed to judge them? I found Open Here near an information desk, and at first mistook it for a collection of Tintin art by Hergé. Flipped it open. Cool. Put it down. Did a lap of the rest of the store. Picked it up on the way out.