Cover for Decoded, by Jay-Z
I first encountered Jay-Z’s Decoded on a subway train. I saw three teenagers across the car huddled around and fighting over a book. It was a journal-sized hardcover with a white jacket and a gold Rorschach print on the cover. I had to find out what it was, so I went up to them and asked, then ordered the book later that night.
I loved it. Created by Rodrigo Corral Design, it’s the kind of book that I’ve always wanted to make, and haven’t made yet. Decoded is a real, collaborative and inclusive storybook, told in an almost even proportion of words and pictures. Every spread feels like the result of love and intense negotiation between designer and author. And Decoded is neither a limited art-house publication nor a rap insider’s manual: it spent 19 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
Pages of Decoded appearing on a public basketball court
When I got the book, I realized, too, that I had seen a page of it somewhere before I encountered it on the train. Pages of the book had been appearing in urban areas before its release, part of a a brilliant scheme dreamed up by Droga5
as a kind of interactive game with spotters logging their sightings onto an interactive map created by Bing
. The cherry on top is that the completed map stands as an interactive version of the book, making a perfect trifecta of book, city and virtual space.