The Great Danish Blocks, Again

Jane Jacobs by re:designAs you may have noticed, we love working with Lego whenever we get a chance and so we gleefully worked them into the Words Matter series. Jane Jacobs’s book The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a classic work on urban planning, including the criticism of modernist urban thought for its lack of focus on human needs. We found Lego blocks to be a great material for this one because of their modular, grid-based character, which illustrates well modernist ideas but adds a playful element to the composition.

Obviously, building letters of Lego was fun but it didn’t go as easy as you might think. In fact, the final construction is our the second attempt. The first one looked like this:

First attemptIf you compare it to the final version, you will see that the letters were broader and lower and we didn’t feel they reflected the height of the cities well enough. While the erosion of some of the letters was visually interesting, we thought they started to resemble ruins, which was too strong an association. Finally, the round bits were too dominant, making the material too obvious. And so we disassembled the whole construction and started again to finally reach this:

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by re:designWe covered most of the letters with flat white blocks (and we did have to raid all the sets for these) so that they looked more abstract and added some extra pieces for the greater sprawl of the composition. In fact, there was one more aspect to the design, as this image will clearly show you:

redesign-cities-03We thought grayness was a very important part of the design but our Lego collection is not nearly extensive enough to include that many blocks in one color. And so it took some post-processing to reach the result we wanted. However, we did want to share the colorful version because we feel it looks fun (and gives you some idea about our process).

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by re:design

4 comments
  1. Maybe that’s a stupid question but: Are those books actually buyable? Or is it a passion of yours to design covers for famous books. I’m asking because the general layout (author’s name etc.) is the same throughout all of your designs – whereas the topics vary widely.

    • Hi. Unfortunately, this was only a PhD project, a series of book covers with tangible type.

  2. I love the colorful version best but I completely understand your creative decision to make it all greyscale. We are all Lego fanatics in our house so I can understand your desire to work with Lego whenever the opportunity arises.

    • Yep, visually we like the colors too, limited as they were by our collection of blocks, but they would be difficult to justify on the cover:)

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