We’re happy to share that the book From the City Hall to the Museum about the beginnings of the Museum of Gdańsk that we had the pleasure of designing (in the very stressful beginnings of the pandemic, too) was awarded distinction in the Most Beautiful Books of the Year competition, a yearly event organized by the Polish Association of Book Publishers to honor good design and print in book publishing.

You can see more of the book here.

We caught up a little late but we utterly loved

WandaVision

What is it? Marvel’s first TV show that directly extends the MCU into TV. It focuses on Wanda Maximoff in the aftermath of the fight with Thanos and of Vision’s death.

Why we love it? It is bold, surprising, a successful experiment with the medium. While tying smoothly in with the rest of the MCU, it does a unique thing, employing the format of a TV show as well as possible, so that it’s not just a movie spread into nine episodes: the episodic nature of the show influences the storytelling. This might sound dry but the show is fun! Also, Elizabeth Olsen is masterful.

Visually speaking, this is also a triumph. For a large part of the show it plays with the tradition of American sitcoms (in a way which eventually makes sense) and you can see the creators having fun with all the nods to the old shows.

The book we have a pleasure of sharing today is a first one in a series. We quite enjoy designing series because in addition to the challenge of shaping a new book, you have to think of other issues: will this really cool solution actually work in the next volume, especially if it happens to cover a rather different subject matter? And, a crucial question, how to make the series consistent but not too repetitive?

Anyways, this series, published by Zajezdnia History Center, consists of history books that gather academic essays on specific issues, mostly from the second half of the 20th century and relating to particular geographic locations. The first book talks about the countryside in the western and northern Poland after 1945: the difficulties it went through under the communist regime and how the economy and lifestyle of people changed.

The design of the book is a nod to modernist design which appeared in Poland in a somewhat different form than in Western Europe but was still a very strong visual language. The ornaments in the book, partly crop illustrations, partly geometric patterns (which you’re fully justified to read as fields), appear on the cover and at the beginnings of essays (and they were fun to create). The illustrative material included with the essays is mostly a bit dry and so goes well with the modernist style and the geometric typography. Part of the cover design is printed in green foil.

The next books in the series will retain the typography and the style but with different color schemes and, obviously, different ornamental themes.

Beginning of an essay about attempts to design a typical country dwelling.
Beginning of one of two big sections.
This 1945 poster tells people arriving to Lower Silesia not to waste time pointlessly wandering the town.
Yes, the produce is real.

We haven’t done one of these forever! But we read this incredibly fun book this month and wanted to share the joy.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

What is it? A sort-of-but-not-really YA novel about a magic school that wants to kill its students. It is a treat for anyone who was ever terrified at the idea of Hogwarts.

Why we love it? This is not a life-changing thinkpiece. It is, however, an incredibly entertaining, engrossing story written in a strong, recognizable narrative voice that immediately makes you know the protagonist, El. You feel all sorts of feelings for her and stan for her not-quite-love relationship. It doesn’t overdo the action scenes and will make you laugh, we’re pretty sure. We did laugh, a lot.

It’s this season again! The season to talk about seasons. Last year we showed you the amazing book by Blexbolex, this year a different one, but just as much of a treat: My Four Seasons by one of the most recognizable and recognized Polish illustrators, Dawid Ryski.

The book can serve as a season primer, telling a story of a five-person family (the fifth person being the dog) and how they experience all the seasons of the year. It’s told through simple yet lavish illustrations in Dawid Ryski’s characteristic style, which includes masterful simplification that does not eliminate detail and beautiful color palettes. We especially appreciate the ability to make all the seasons seem appealing because, let’s face it, they’re not all created equal. Don’t even try to convince us they are. But at least they all fuel gorgeous illustrations!

As you can see, there are so many things to love about this book: how all the environments, while different, are consistent when it comes to colors and the level of details, how there’s something fun to do in every season and the sweet, idyllic picture of a family life.

With the pandemic limiting access to art events, we have recently learnt of a fantastic one, and held in the open so it’s virus-free. It is a part of a women art festival and this particular outdoor installation has been created by our friend, Anita Wasik. After childbirth she took up embroidery and developed it now into a project integrated into a beautiful green area in Gdynia.

The installation is called Genesis and consists of 12 embroidered objects the author half-jokingly calls “pussies” that have been installed into 12 tree hollows. You can walk around the park and find them, on purpose or by accident. We love this project for two quite different reasons. One is that it looks fantastic. And also shows mad embroidering skills. The other one is more political: it feels like in some environments anything relating to either women or nature these days is, if not downright dismissed or met with hostility, at least considered a lesser subject. So art which manages to combine these subjects, potentially opening a door for an interesting discussion about the relationship between the feminine and the natural, but without being obvious and ugly, as political art often is, get our highest marks. Also, we love trees and tree hollows, so this endears the project to us even more.

If you happen to be in Gdynia this summer make sure to check out Genesis.

(All photos courtesy of the author.)