Lower East

it’s the blog

This is the blog for lower east & lower east lab. A mix of stuff from our design & communication world (things we do, things we have done, and things we experience and get inspired from) and news from our lab – where all kind of actions and experiments can happen – that be workshops, creative meetings, urban safaris (with focus on start up, architecture, design or food), and exhibitions, events, dinners and a lot more.

it’s cookbook design

Words from the designer, Helle Marietta

December 18, 2017


“Food that make people talk to each other, Camillo’s Kitchen”,

written by Jørgen Smidstrup, designed and illustrated by Helle Marietta.

The Camillo cookbook project has been an amazing “con amore” project for Jørgen and me and a big part of our lives for the last years. While Jørgen (aka Camillo) has been developing all the recipes and writing the book, I have been developing the design and the illustrations for the book and the visual identity for the Camillo’s Kitchen universe. During this process we have been, walking, talking, discussing, eating, traveling in Italy, France, Denmark, Spain and Sweden to get inspired from food markets, people, restaurants and coffee bars, from taste, smell, colours, atmosphere etc. We have placed ourselves in creative work camps in various places – a small stone house in Tuscany, a family hotel in Florence, an artist recidency in an old wooden house in Stockholm, our friends’ summerhouses in Denmark and of course in our Lower East Lab in Berlin.

It is a big book. The format is 20 x 27 cm – it has 352 pages, 145 recipes, 175 photos, hardcover – your big, solid friend in the kitchen. The book is an invitation into the Camillo universe – a joyful combination of recipes, helpful tips and tricks, stories and essays, photos and illustrations. First edition in the Danish.

The design of the book
My keyword for the design was to reflect the vibe of Jørgens writing, which is very  warm, relaxed and inviting, personal and with a sense of humour – as is the case with the recipes and the food – relaxed, easy going and meant to create an open and warm atmosphere between people. It is logical, uncomplicated and easy to follow the recipes. My aim was to create a design that is modern and functional with a personal, inviting and cozy atmosphere and an open and warm feeling to it.



Front cover. Hand drawn letters & hand cut illustrations by Helle Marietta. The title in English: “Food, that makes people talk to each other, Camillo’s Kitchen.”


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Camillo in the kitchen. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.


I combined a modern typeface, Trade Gothic, with my own handdrawn font – drawn in black ink – used for the cover illustration and for the chapter headlines throughout the book. The colour palette is black & white, dusty green, light pink and a tiny splash of red. The dusty green is the main colour of the Camillo visual identity – the pink is the colour of the Palermo football team jersey, and both the city and the team is part of our story and has a big place in our hearts.

To divide the twelve chapters in the book visually I created illustrations for the title pages of each chapter – hand cut, free style illustrations. I created black raster patterns with different dot density and used them as a “colour” palette from dark to light. I cut out a lot of different object, personal things – “family members” from our kitchen – plates, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, plants, furniture etc., with help from our intern Juliana Toro. I combined different elements for each illustration and placed them on a light pink checkered background, which can remind us of shelf paper from our grandmothers kitchen cupboards or a squared paper notebook inviting us to maybe make our own notes and additions. The blackness of the illustrations corresponds with the solid black ink of the handdrawn letters in the headlines.



Ink sketches for the hand drawn font.



Hand cut illustrations in the making.



Recipe overview – spread.



Title spread for the Pasta & Pizza chapter, hand drawn font, hand cut illustrations, pink checkered background.


Different kinds of content
The book contains different kinds of texts – introductions, recipes and essays. To make it easy to navigate in the book, the different types of pages have different design. The recipe-pages has a very functional design to make it easy to follow the instructions. The essays stand out by having a coloured “raster-dot” background – green when Camillo is writing, pink when the other contributors are writing, Erik Jensen, Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen and Tilman Grune.

The photos in the book is a mix of great food photos, black & white documentary photos from our kitchen taken by photographer Malthe Ivarsson and beautiful, evocative travel pictures taken by Jørgen during our many trips.

The food photos are shot in the Lower East Lab in Berlin. We styled them with our own things – porcelain, tableware, cutlery, glasses, pots and pans, tables, backgrounds, fabric etc.… everything collected during many years from travels, fleamarkets, inherited stuff etc. The food photo and styling sessions was a creative collaboration between Malthe, Jørgen and me together with our interns Juliana and Manne Mortensen.

The rhythm of the book
I wanted to create a rhythm throughout the book, which had a natural and playful “melody”. The book has a very strong visual apperance with many “players” – food photos, documentary photos, travel photos, illustrations combined with the different kinds of texts. I wanted to create a design where all the players had their space, standing strong by themselves as well as being strong together as a whole. Printing out the whole book during the process and spreading the pages out on the floor in the lab, moving them around, was helpful in finding a playful journey through the book creating variation, curiosity and balance.

The feeling of the book
Another important subject in book design is how the book “feels”, when you hold it in your hands. Is the book pleasant to touch? Does it feel good, when you turn the pages? Is it a book that you want to grap and get to know better?

The choice of paper fell on Munken Kristall Rough from Arctic Paper – an extraordinary beautiful paper. The uncoated, extra tactile surface and its highwhite shade make a perfect combination for well-defined images and a natural paper feel. Thanks to high bulk we could choose a lower grammage and keep thickness as well as paper stability for the best final result. For the cover we chose Geltex – a very durable paper, which can withstand more wear than conventional offset paper but still has the wonderful uncoated touch.

The natural feel of the paper corresponds with the whole idea of the book being inviting, informal and warm. With the uncoated paper a stain from your cooking can leave a trace on the paper. We think it is nice to have a few stains in your cookbook – it is your human touch and a sign of your book being used.

For the print of the book, we collaborated with the printing house Specialtrykkeriet ARCO, with whom we have done many projects – several high end art books for Danish art museums.

The result of all our work is a very personal book, which we are immensely proud of!

Please come by at our studio and take a look at the cookbook with us.

Or find it in one of our sales points in Denmark. See more here.

Read more about Camillos Kitchen.

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The content spread. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.


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Recipe spread – gnocchi, parma, & sage. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.


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Recipe spread – brussel sprouts and red onions. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.


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Kitchen vibe. Pbotos: Malthe Ivarsson.



Recipe spread – Pears with coffee and blue cheese. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.



Recipe spread – french onion soup. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.



Palermo vibe. Photos: Jørgen Smidstrup.



Kitchen vibe. Pbotos: Malthe Ivarsson.


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Essay spread. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.



Recipe spread – eggs for brunch. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.



Title spread for the soup chapter.



Palermo vibe. Photo: Jørgen Smidstrup



Drinks recipe – Una Buona Giornata. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.



Cake recipe – orange cake with basil pesto. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.


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Camillo & Marietta (the writer and the designer) in the kitchen. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.



All pages printed out to get the last overview of the visual rhythm.