I cannot tell you how many times my mother repeated “Don’t judge a book by its cover” while we were growing up. Whether she was meant it as metaphor so that we deliberately sought the inner value of whoever and whatever was presented in front of us, or as incentive to encourage reading books while we perused our local bookstores and libraries, it was my go-to mantra until I met Louise Fili a few years ago.

Okay, okay. I never really met Fili in the physical sense until early last Saturday evening. The truth is that I had been inadvertently stalking her for the past several years in bookstores and other random places like Volpetti, Rome’s favorite food boutique.

Fili, a designer, has created some of my best-loved books that I can proudly say I purchased solely on cover design and typeface. Food aficionados and Italo- and Franco-philes may recognize David Downie’s lovely Terroir series, book lovers have probably caressed her Rizzoli series (which I found at the Posta Centrale!), and design freaks have collected all of them– books, logos, packaging, what she has created is endless. Fili is a juggernaut of style, and her flair mesmerizes me. To paraphrase Nabakov– Louise, diva of design, temptress of type. The blink of the eye taking a trip of font through a parade of graphics.

In a random coincidence that can only happen when one is married to 900 BC to 700 AD loving archaeologist who wouldn’t know (nor care about) the difference between a Hirst and Hurst, the Professor knows Louise Fili, a fact he neglected to reveal to me until last sumer when talking about one of his programs.

Fili, along with husband Steven Heller and Lita Talarico come to Rome every summer for a lovely masters program and hang out with the Professor. When all of it clicked, I had the proverbial conniption, so this year, the Professor’s birthday present to me was a personal introduction to Ms. Fili, which may have included a curtsey (on my part) and a raised eyebrow (on her part) as I shouted “I am your biggest fan” before I ran away.

~this post is dedicated to my friend Barbara, who a friend once called the “designy-est”, because not only does she love type and creates amazing designs, I am convinced she is the genetic amalgamation of Amelia Earhart, Louise Fili and William Tell.