Always in Colour Book Review: Patagonia & Gestalten
“The more you know, the less you need” - Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Chouinard Equipment Ltd. and Patagonia.
When knowledge is considered the true wealth of life, there is a real sense of adventure in approaching the endless amount of materials and resources that are available to us and a beauty in knowing that there will always be more to learn. With an ability to evoke emotion and imagination, any curiosity we see ourselves with can be quenched with a good book whether this be a travel guide, personal memoir or instruction manual, but with such a rich abundance on offer in today's world, it can prove difficult knowing where to start.
To help inspire your next adventure, influence positive lifestyle changes and invigorate personal pursuits, we’ve reviewed a selection of books published by Patagonia and Gestalten which tell the tale of life changing moments and the importance of human connection to nature through climbing, exploring, shared experiences and history.
The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Islands (Hardcover) - Dale Hope
A must-have for anyone with an interest in textile, surf and fashion history and how these have intertwined over time, The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Islands has been compiled by Dale Hope, a man whose enthusiasm for the traditional designs of the Hawaiian shirt and beauty of the Pacific Ocean region goes beyond passion and is entwined within is own family history. Expressed across 384 stunningly presented recycled paper pages, Hope expresses the ‘Aloha Spirit’ through high quality original images, archival illustrations and patterns as well as his own history and tales of experiences all relating to the Hawaiian shirt.
As the latest fully updated and revised edition, The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Islands commences with a foreword written by iconic American surfer, shaper, actor and Patagonia ambassador Gerry Lopez. As a native to Honolulu and someone who is familiar with the magic of the islands, Lopez is known to express how international recognition for the beauty of the Hawaiian landscape shirts goes far beyond aesthetics and reflects a lifestyle that is in tune with nature, oneself and one another.
Starting from the early 1900’s, the first chapters give an in depth insight into how the Hawaiian shirt as we know it came to be, explaining the importance of Lurline boat history and how visitors, who would often arrive formally and over-dressed for the tropical climate, would seek more relaxed styles for their stay. With mentions of important figures throughout the shirts history such as actor John Barrymoore, Honolulu tailor Musa-Shiya and designers such as Hope Dennis, John ‘Keoni’ Meigs and Robert Sato, the informative history lesson is accompanied by beautiful print patterns, original drawings, vintage woven labels and photographs which help to piece everything together in a visibly engaging way.
Beside the in-depth history of the designs themselves and how contemporary styles continue to be inspired by the archives, the importance of the ‘Aloha’ spirit and its influence is expressed throughout and brings the decorative prints back to the mountains and beaches where the story began. Acting as a walking expression of the ‘Alo’ which means to be in the presence of and ‘Ha’ the breath and spirit of one's being, what is taken away from the book is that the beauty and symbol of the Hawaiian shirt goes far beyond fashion and is a personal expression for anyone who wishes to share the creative forces, presence and spirit of themselves with others.
Beyond the Mountain (Softcover) - Steve House & Scott Johnston
"Within alpinism's narrow framework we seek transcendence and relentlessly pursue what remains hidden from us on flat ground: our true selves." - Beyond the Mountain
Winner of the 2009 Boardman Tasker Award and the 2009 Banff Mountain Book Award for Mountain Literature, Beyond the Mountain tells the extraordinary story of the accomplishments and trials and tribulations of Steve House. As a lifelong athlete, coach and one of the best alpine climbers in the world, House is honest and raw in his descriptions and resists skipping over tales of the bad times to offer a well rounded approach of how even the hardest struggles both physically and mentally can lead to greatness and a new found sense of self.
Commencing with a foreword by Reinhold Messner, an Italian mountaineer, explorer and author who is known for naming House as ‘the best high altitude climber in the world’, the book is compiled of 288 pages of monochrome photographs to help to set the scene for numerous adventure stories in addition to 24 full colour prints that together help you to envisage the headspace of House and how he overcame various challenges. Resonating with any climbing or adventure enthusiast and those who aspire to reach challenging summits such as Mount Makalu and Mount Alberta, just as House has done, the detailed and gripping accounts transport you into his shoes and will give you a new found appreciation and admiration for those who push themselves to the limit in pursuit of their passions. Described by a fellow reader as a ‘very good presentation of the concept of “suffering well”’, the combination of text and imagery perfectly presents individual accounts that have contributed towards House’s successes and considered failures with the inclusion of his motives, strengths and fears.
Steve House has shared just a few of many stories within Beyond The Mountain not to further his own reputation but instead to demonstrate the connection between both the physical and metaphoric mountains we may face in our own lives. Pushing the idea of being the best he can be - instead of the best in the world - a focus on the process rather than achievement is what makes House’s message so profound and relatable whether you’re a climber or not.
Gestalten The Outsiders; New Outdoor Creativity Book - Hardback
If you yearn for more time spent in nature, for solitude and adventure in the great outdoors and a place to ignite fresh creativity and thoughts, The Outsiders; New Outdoor Creativity Book is sure to become your essential guide into making this a reality, whether you head for the hills or look closer to home for your own personal escape. On first impression the beautiful imagery and selection of hand-picked, specialist products will draw you in but what will keep you reading on is the emotion and story behind each page which captures the special connection between humans and nature. Encouraging the importance of this in a time where technology and screen time is progressively more prominent, The Outsiders captures the charm and simplicity behind how we can ‘re-wild’ ourselves with a certain modern twist that has an appealing aesthetic that doesn’t draw too far away from the core meaning behind life’s own adventures.
Acting as a sort of specialist travel-come-buyers guide, the book's presentation combines high quality images taken in nature, showing activities across land, mountains and sea such as hiking, climbing, camping and cycling, with appropriate products and information on conscious, relevant brands alongside. However, the idea of commercialism or consumption doesn’t feel pushed and instead a light suggestion of how you can choose to enhance your time outside accompanied by beautiful items is what helps to keep the book in tune with the overall message. Additionally, if you are seeking insight from key figures within the ‘new outdoor’ scene, interviews and stories from Vincent Stanley of Patagonia, Poler co-founder Benji Wagner, designer Geoff McFetridge and surf photographer Chris Bukard to name just a few are also woven throughout.
Whilst the ‘new outdoor’ movement is considered the peak of hipster for many, there is no shame in exploring your own ideas of how one can be more in tune with nature in addition to supporting brands that appeal to you and support similar ideals. Whether you feel the need to purchase a handcrafted teepee and rowing oars or choose to keep things a little more modest, the main focus is getting outside and taking a break from life’s continuous fast pace for a moment, a day or a few weeks.
Showcasing the outlook and passions of a new creative scene that has emerged in recent years of those seeking a life spent closer to nature, the essence of The Outsiders; New Outdoor Creativity is the encouragement of how we can rethink work and play in the great outdoors and how much richer life can be when we take the time to admire the peace, tranquility and views before us every once in while.
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