Wall of Fame: UCP Designers Curate Even the Walls

Anyone entering the UC Press office immediately notices the display wall in the reception area where books are arranged to form a mosaic-like piece of art. Claudia Smelser explains the process (part homage to now-retired senior design colleague, Sandy Drooker), and fellow designer Lia Tjandra’s photographs convey the effect.

Claudia, Sandy, and Lia
(from left) Claudia Smelser, Sandy Drooker,
and Lia Tjandra

In our old building, the book display was the first thing you’d see upon entering. Someone evidently paid attention to it, since new books appeared intermittently, but the area looked a bit forlorn.

I don’t remember which of us in Design decided we should put ourselves in charge and do our best to show off the covers we had created. If they looked beautiful singly, why shouldn’t they look beautiful together?

So my coworker Sandy Drooker and I would stay late from time to time to “curate” the book display.

We chose different themes and a mix of old and new titles: all jazz, all snakes, books with black and red covers, books featuring faces, books designed with circles.

Sandy would stand at a distance staring for long periods of time, using author names as a shorthand as she suggested particular placements. “Trade Rabinowitz for Alvarez. No. Try Ingram. Move Ingram up and Montgomery down.” And so on, until we got it right, which could take a very long time.

Sandy is an artist. She created the orange display you can see now opposite reception in our new building, and I haven’t had the heart to change it since she retired.

Reception Area Wall of Fame


Kitchen Wall of Fame


Art Wall of Fame