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There might be people who shrug at graphic freebies. We neither know them nor count ourselves among their number and that’s how we got this map we’re showing you today. To celebrate 25 years of freedom the Prime Minister’s office has ordered an illustrated map of Poland with information about the history of democratic transformation. Then everyone could order a copy for free: I suppose they expected this to be mostly aimed at parents of children but we refused to be stopped by that and our map came a few days ago, close enough to Independence Day.

The map is a work of Hipopotam studio from Warsaw, who proved they can do maps by publishing one of the biggest illustrated books in our collection, with quirky maps of the world. It’s quite an impressive feat and probably gave someone the idea for this little gadget we’re presenting. (Also, if maps of the world sound like your thing, this book is quite widely exported: we saw it in London and in Paris so you can probably grab one somewhere near you.)

The map of Poland is pretty much the same style-wise, only it’s of, you know, Poland. You can find illustrations of historical figures, important buildings, food and, our favorite, animals.

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Here’s Gdynia, where we live.

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The other side presents some crucial moments in Poland’s recent history, titled What We Did Right: 25 Years of Freedom.

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I don’t exactly know how appealing this is for children but we found the whole project a lot of fun.

solidarity-redesign-08As this week we celebrate Independence Day in Poland and this year something called 25 Years of Freedom, we thought this is a good occasion to show you a slightly older project, a book we designed for the Center of Solidarity in Gdańsk to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Solidarity. (Here’s Wikipedia about the Solidarity movement in Poland, should you feel the need to catch up on history.)

The book is a result of sociological studies about the awareness people have of the movement thirty years after its formation and of its political and historical impact. It includes a report full of quotations from various respondents and results in the form of graphs and tables (which, as you may already know, is something we generally like to design).

solidarity-redesign-02solidarity-redesign-01While inside we were limited to two colors (which in itself was quite an interesting challenge and an occasion to work with mixed inks), on the cover we decided to add silver, which gave the book a technical appearance. We used a dot grid and a technical monospace typeface to additionally emphasize the measuring aspect of the book. This grid, obviously, also organizes the layout inside.

solidarity-redesign-03The book includes a limited number of archive photographs, mostly showing the people of Solidarity or historical moments. We used them especially for chapter openings. Here Lech Wałęsa with Jerzy Popiełuszko.

solidarity-redesign-06Jacek Kuroń on the left, Tadeusz Gocłowski and Tadeusz Mazowiecki with Bronisław Geremek on the right.

solidarity-redesign-05The Pope John Paul II’s trip to Poland in 1979.

solidarity-redesign-04solidarity-redesign-09This might not be the most exciting part for many readers but it was certainly the most challenging one to design (at least once the layout was complete): all the ways to present statistical data.

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Today’s poster marks the beginning of our cooperation with Experyment: the science center of Gdynia, which aims to show children – and sometimes adults, too – that science can be both relevant and fun. While on regular days the center offers children a lot of entertaining activities in its interactive exhibition, on Halloween it offered a program for adults entitled “The Laboratory of Fear”, which included such things as molecular cuisine, lectures, the presentation of the Oculus Rift technology and some others.

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We decided upon an illustrated poster that would be in tune with other materials for the center but somewhat darker than those aimed at children. We played with the classic horror monsters but gave them a scientific (and cartoonish) twist. For colors we chose sombre purples mixed with pumpkin oranges and acid greens.

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As you may have observed we are big fans of a Warsaw illustrator Marianna Oklejak. During a trip to Warsaw two years ago we found her wonderful illustrated history of the city of Warsaw that we determined to buy but before we got to it (long story, doesn’t matter) it turned out to be sold out. We discovered they were considering a reprint but not really actually doing it. So imagine our delight when looking half-heartedly for a gift for a niece in a small, chain bookstore we found a forgotten copy of the book. Maybe it got overlooked because it was somewhat warped or maybe because the cover doesn’t entirely do justice to the great contents but the more lucky us. We bought it and we can share it with you today.

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It’s a large-format, cardboard book and each spread presents a dense illustration of the map of Warsaw in a particular historical moment. Detail-heavy drawings provide a wealth of details that you can look at for quite a long time, admiring subtle sense of humor. We particularly like that some characters, for instance the siren of Warsaw (the symbol of the city) or a pair of bears, resurface in every spread in various roles.

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The oldest history of Warsaw, full of pagans and missionaries and wild animals.

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The time when quarrelsome nobles ruled the country.

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The charming 20s.

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Rebuilding of the city after the war (a personal favorite spread).

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The gray early 1980s.

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Modern Warsaw, full of traffic jams and billboards (but also cultural events).

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It’s always a pleasure to create work for art-related events and this time we had the pleasure of working for the Center of Modern Art Łaźnia (which translates as “bathhouse”) in Gdańsk to design a poster for an exhibition When Is a Neighbor a Stranger? The exhibition examines the phenomenon of art in public spaces (that is art which is both a neighbor and a stranger, which I’m sure you’ve gotten already).

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The poster doubles as a folder so that one side can be used as a poster when unfolded and the other includes a more detailed information about particular events, with a map of where the exhibits are located within the city. We used the motif of a window slash a picture frame – together with the slash, which became a repeated graphic element. We had fun with the selection of colors, which are CMYK-inspired (or CMY, I guess) but with a twist. We also used the motif from the poster on an A6-size postcard.

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