Noir by Sandra Praun

In Noir – A Serendipitous Encyclopedia Inspired by 1001 Names for the Color Black graphic designer Sandra Praun takes on the color black and the language that charges it with a variety of characteristics. The book consists of three parts:

The first comprises 1,001 names for different nuances of black, taken from, for example, make-up, car paint, artist pigments, tattoo ink, and house paint. The often expressive names have been collated into an associative flow that transports the reader from countries and cities, over mountains and oceans, down among plants and animals, out into space, to myths and religions, power and eroticism, war and death. 

The second part is a lexicon using a selection of the names as its point of departure. The contents of the articles are based on a variety of materials, collected with a serendipitous method. The name that a manufacturer has chosen for its black shade becomes a growing network of tributaries connecting to the world. Following the different branches leads to vastly different contexts such as pop music, contemporary art, sports, poetry, film, dictionaries, political speeches, and scientific articles. One or other autobiographical detail has been scattered among the articles. The different sources, perspectives, and media give a multifaceted impression of the connotative and associative capacity of the color. 

In the third part, the 1,001 names are listed in alphabetical order along with their product category and manufacturer. A marker indicates whether the name is included in the lexicon or not.

The book includes an essay by artist Oscar Guermouche. The text debates the word “black” and what it means to the objects, phenomena, and people it is ascribed to.

A numbered special edition of 101 copies is hand-bound in the material Viperblack by Phoebe Heess—the blackest textile measurable. In order to protect the fabric, the books are delivered in a specially designed box.

In December 2019, Noir was exhibited at Morioka Shoten in Tokyo and in the spring and summer of 2020 at 1616 / arita japan in Arita.

In October 2020, Noir was awarded Swedish Book Art (Svensk Bokkonst).

Since 2021 Noir is included in the collection of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt.

Sandra Praun is a graphic designer, born 1971 in Stockholm. She is a graduate of Berghs School of Communication and the Department of Graphic Design & Illustration at Konstfack (MFA) in Stockholm. She has been running her own design studio since 2001 focusing on book design for clients such as Moderna Museet, Nationalmuseum, and the Public Art Agency Sweden, as well as publishing houses such as Hatje Cantz, Edizioni Charta, and Albert Bonniers förlag. In 2020 she launched Praun & Guermouche together with Oscar Guermouche. Rotolito / Nava Press

Praun & Guermouche [001]

Idea and concept: Sandra Praun

Editing and design: Sandra Praun & Oscar Guermouche

Essay: Oscar Guermouche


11 cm x 15 cm

1,088 pages

Printed at Rotolito / Nava Press

ISBN 978-91-985244-0-6


Edition: 1,500

Special edition: 101