We had a busy Night of Museums last Saturday. One of the events we took part in was the opening of an exhibition at the Museum of Gdańsk whose graphic elements we designed. The exhibition, titled “In a City Mood,” shows paintings of pre-war Gdańsk, created by artists who often lost their Gdańsk home. The image of the city is idealized, nostalgic but despite that, perhaps surprisingly, familiar to anyone who knows the city.
The exibition is arranged quite charmingly in a new exhibition space in the Artus Court in a way that recalls old, cozy salons, with dark blue walls, golden frames for the paintings and actual furniture: chests of drawers to open and see etchings inside and armchairs for visitors to rest in. Our designs correspond with the coziness of the interior design: with slightly old-fashioned ornaments and decorative serif typography they add to the exhibition’s sentimental atmosphere.
So this week let us share some news from the recent weeks.
First, we’re happy to share that two of our books from last year were shortlisted in the Most Beautiful Books of the Year competition! One of them, The Blell Inventory, we already shared, the other one, The Colors of Gdańsk, we’re still photographing! (We’re so behind with that…)
And second, during this year’s European Night of Museums we will participate in the event organized by the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, where we will conduct a tiny little typographic workshop. With the participants we will create typographic posters made of vegetable (and maybe fruit) letters. Hope to see some of you there (the space is limited but if you happen to be around Gdańsk and feel like that’s an interesting way to spend an hour, you can sign up here)!
It says “The Night of Museums” and our older son had a lot of fun helping with the letters. It seems he’ll learn strange typography before he learns to write properly.
We feel that we don’t share nearly enough cool work that we come upon and just as this thought arose Google gifted us with a charming Google Doodle by Matthew Cruiskshank. As it was not featured worldwide (or even very broadly), we thought we’d share it with you.
The doodle celebrates the iconic US highway Route 66 that ran from Chicago to California and features so prominently in the culture that even us non-Americans are very aware of it. In a charming mix of painted illustration and animation Cruickshank captures the atmosphere of the states the road crosses and some particular attractions on the way. As this official website claims, the illustrations were developed outside, during an actual road trip along the Route. (You can see the whole animation there, too.)
The work charmed us with its mix of light-hearted painterly illustrations, collage and very simple animation that feels unforced and humorous. It has fun typographic (and other) details and is wonderfully matched with Nat King Cole’s “Route 66”. There are one or two moments when the vector elements in the animation style felt a bit jarring to us but they’re quite offset by the fragments of the actual sketchbook and the liveliness of the whole thing. Overall, it was a charming, little morning surprise in our browser that made us happy.
We already teased this project but didn’t yet show you the result. For the 50th anniversary of the Museum of Gdańsk we were invited to design the anniversary medal that would be presented to people who were important for the Museum’s history. We worked on the graphic design while the 3D design and production supervision were superbly done by Biuro Kreacja: Dorota Terlecka.
One side of the medal shows the Museum’s logo surrounded by a shape inspired by an architectural detail from one of the museum’s buildings. It is, in fact, an interpretation of a gothic ceiling with its characteristic spiky forms. On the other side there is a typographic design with a Latin motto chosen for the occasion, which translates as “To Each Their Own.” For this we chose a modernised serif letter inspired by Roman capitals. The medal is packed in a simple box with silver print.
This was a new and exciting experience but we are particularly grateful for Dorota’s expertise because object design is a very different animal than the regular flat work we do…
Every two years we get a chance to play with paper birds, letters and poets and the time has come for a new version to emerge. This is, of course, only an in-work photo of the elements, with the actual art to follow soon.
Today we are sharing one of our most challenging and satisfying projects from the last year. The Castle Museum of Malbork owns a hand-written document that lists all the exhibits owned by the Museum at the end of the 19th century, created by Theodor Blell. In an attempt to study the history of its collection the Museum researchers have deciphered and translated the document so that it could be published in a book format.
The book consists of several parts: introductory essays, the translation of the document with numerous footnotes, photographic illustrations and the transcription of the original text. Most of the book only uses two colors: black and red, with the exception of the colorful photographic insert which we printed on glossier, more creamy paper. The main challenge of the design (that, to be honest, we loved) consisted of translating the looser spacial arrangement of the original lists into very strictly organized modern tables so that all the various (and not always consistent) distinctions used by the author wouldn’t get lost. Of course, a huge part of this was done by the translator but we enjoyed doing our part as well.
With the colors inside quite limited, we went for a minimalistic cover without actual print: the title is debossed and then hot-stamped with silver foil on bright gray canvas. Because of the nature of the text that consists mostly of ordered lists, the whole book – including the cover, the contents page and more – uses table-like arrangements that hover stylistically between the old and the new.
This photo from the colorful insert shows a spread from the original inventory: this is what all those tables looked like hand-drawn.