Cover Club: Tabi ha Guestroom
I was recently visiting Dongguan in China's Guangdong Province on a family-related trip. It's not really a city that tourists would visit and I hadn't been in almost ten years and didn't have particularly fond memories of it. To my surprise, it has blossomed into a real metropolitan city and become much more pleasant with lots of greenery and better air quality than a decade ago. I had pretty low expectations of having anything of interest to do there, but on our first night, we went to a vegetarian restaurant and then stumbled upon this little shop/cafe called Swallow Book Bar.
It was a charming hangout and had a pretty good selection of books considering we were in industrial China. After a browse, we were headed out the door when a book caught my eye. It was in Chinese (I can pick out a few characters but that's about it as far as reading goes), but it looked promising as something that might have some good drawings. However it was shrinkwrapped and the woman working at the counter couldn't tell me much about what I would find inside. I made out that it was by a Japanese artist, but that was the extent of it. So I literally judged this book by its cover and decided to take a chance on it (thanks go to Vicky who insisted on paying for it).
We unwrapped it as soon as it was paid for and I was pleased to find great drawings of hotel rooms (usually on hotel letterhead), street scenes, and scenery. There are lots of notes on the sketches with wonderful details and I got a real feel for the travel even if I couldn't read the essays.
I finally got to do a little more research when I got home and I was surprised to find that instead of a 30-something woman (I guess that's just who I expect drawn travelogues from?), this book was by an older Japanese male designer/architect, Kazuya Ura. I haven't found too much of his work online except the book Superior Interior Renovations, which seems like a more formal study, but also has some sketchbook drawings like this book. I wish I could find out more about this book in English, but I had to settle for a Google translation of the Chinese publisher CITIC's page. I'm not even totally sure I have the title correct. It's translated in the book as "Tabi Wa Guest Room" but I decided to defer to the title on his Nikken Space Design profile, "Tabi ha Guestroom" (Travel is Guestroom). I hope to one day sit down and figure out what he says in his writings, but for now I'll just enjoy the art.