Fiell publishing… one year on

Charlotte and Peter Fiell have been making waves in the publishing industry for many years, since they were in charge of the design books for Taschen, creating some of the most memorable books of our generation.

One year ago at the London Book Fair, they shocked everyone by launching their own publishing house, Fiell.

Today, they are back at the London Book Fair showing everyone just how far they have come in the past year and that this was a move that paid off in spades. I took a little time out with Charlotte and Peter to discuss this success…

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ATELIER TALLY: Almost one year on, has the launch been as successful as you had hoped?

Fiell: Obviously starting up in the midst of a recession isn’t easy, but actually the first year has been a pretty good one considering the tight ship we are having to run. We now have a great team in place to move forward with and we have a number of books out in the wild, which is helping us gain traction. We realise it is going to take time to build up our list and also the Fiell brand, but considering it has only been a year we think we are doing pretty well. It is just frustrating because we would love to do so much more, but we are currently constrained by having to grow organically one step at a time.

AT: How has the industry accepted your venture. Do they feel it was a bold move considering the economic climate?

F: We are basically content providers and unlike traditional publishers we don’t see ourselves tied to print, although we still believe in the printed page. We certainly have had a lot of good feedback from book distributors and booksellers who like the fact that our books are quite innovative and have more content and better images than most other illustrated books out there. We are currently developing a range of digital products alongside our print books and think that this is going to be a significant area for us because our books are so accessible yet visually and information rich.

AT: Which book has been the most successful for sales and which has been more critically acclaimed that you have produced at Fiell?

F: Our bestselling book at the moment is “Cult-ure” by Rian Hughes, which is a graphically impactful and thought-provoking exploration of media convergence in the digital age. The book that has had the most critical acclaim, however, has been “Tools for Living: A Sourcebook of Iconic Designs for the Home”, which was recently named “Best New Home Design Book” by Jay Johnson at Home Design Examiner.

AT: If there is one thing that has surprised you the most from ‘going it alone’ what would you say that was?

F: The very long hours and the incredible amount of stress. It is certainly not a 9 to 5 job, but it is also good to be doing something that we really care about and feel is making a difference.

AT: You use your blog as a way to share things you like, do you find that this is an essential tool or something you enjoy to post to occasionally?

F: Our blog is a very important way for us to convey information about our books, but also it is a means by which we can communicate about other things we find interesting, whether it is a new poster campaign or the world’s first-ever home gaming console.

Read the blog at fiellblog.com

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AT: You talked to Wallpaper* last year about digital publishing being something that you would have to consider in the future, are plans moving along for this?

F: We are working closely with a number of major digital developers and will have some excellent digital products coming soon to a device near you.

AT: Being a very visual publisher, I imagine you choose the paper stock incredibly carefully to make the most of the images… if you publish to an iPad or Kindle, do you make any special considerations for how the images will be displayed on these and is this a worry for you?

F: Good question, we are actually working on this very issue at the moment!

AT: You describe yourself as a global publisher, have you found that sales are increasing in countries that you previously were not expecting to see, or is it a very stable market?

F: International sales are pretty much as we expected, but these can vary a lot depending on the book. We have a couple of new titles in the pipeline that could easily surprise us, especially in less well-developed markets such as Brazil and Japan.

AT: Finally, I work in the design industry and have my favourite objects, including the wonderful Vitsœ shelving which your office walls are adorned with, but I wondered after all of these books if there was one object that really stood out to you as your favourite… and of course I am sure you have different ideas, so it would be great to hear from both of you on this.

Charlotte Fiell: It has to be any chair by Pierre Paulin, because they are just so comfortable and with their sculptural forms they look great in any interior setting. [see upholstered chairs in attached photos]

Peter Fiell: The product I really enjoy using every single day is the Ciacapo teapot by Kazuhiko Tomita. As a Japanese designer working in Milan, Tomita has developed a wonderful design language that synthesizes cultural influences from both the East and the West. His teapot for example references the traditional Japanese tetsubin, but with a slight Italian quirkiness. It’s very poetic, yet very functional. I love it.

 

Reuters talked to them both upon the launch of the company. Watch the video interview…

Fiell publishing will be at the London Book Fair from 11 to 13 April 2011. Find them at stand i705.

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Daniel

Having worked in design for the past decade, Daniel started ateliertally.com as a discussion of timeless, modernist product design. Trained as a graphic designer, he also has an avid interest in typography. You can follow him on Twitter @ateliertally.

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