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23rd April marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Two years ago, for the 450th anniversary of his baptism, we have started what has become our Shakespeare Project, whose results we are sharing with you today.

The logo of the project with symbols for genres of Shakespeare’s work

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We were looking into published series of Shakespeare’s plays and how they were designed because we were wondering about buying a nice collection for our library but we didn’t find anything we’d particularly covet. There are a few collections but not exactly what we had in mind. So instead we decided to design a series ourselves.

At first, however, we (re)read all the plays (and sonnets), looking for symbols or motifs that could stand for the entire play. With some of them it was very simple: it’s quite easy to match a skull to Hamlet or a donkey’s head to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With others, though, we had to dig deeper and rely on less obvious associations. In the end we compiled a list of possible symbols for each play (many for some, fewer for others).

A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse! and some other symbols used on the covers

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redesign-shakespeare_project-04The idea was to pick one symbol for each play and use it in a sort of ornament but when we started working, we realized that we wanted to broaden this concept a little: not only did we add additional, smaller icons which are also inspired by the stories, but also for each cover one big icon is changed, illustrating in an almost gif-animation-like style the plot of the play. For instance, the ship on Pericles sinks and the crown of weeds on King Lear falls apart.

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We kept the covers fairly simple and used bright, pure colors to make them more striking – a different combination of three colors for each cover.

We also designed the interior of the books, using one special color in addition to black to mark characters, footnotes and such.

Cover and interior for The Merchant of Venice
Othello: interior and a fragment of cover
The beginning of Two Gentlemen of Verona

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Comedies

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Tragedies and poetry

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Tetralogies of history dramas

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In addition to 38 books we also used the icon designs in a poster which summarizes the project. It presents all the plays divided into genres, together with their dates of composition (after Encyclopaedia Britannica). There are two color versions of the poster, light and dark, depending on how you imagine your Shakespeare because we liked both versions and didn’t want to choose.

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If you are a huge Shakespeare fan or would just like to remember what plays he wrote, you might buy the poster on bza (light/dark) or society6 (light/dark). Additionally, this time we are also selling wall tapestries and throw blankets with this design because it’s just such a cool option.

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This was a challenging but satisfying project. Not only did we refresh (and complete) our knowledge of Shakespeare’s work (and it’s always great when you learn something while working) but also we had to work with a deadline and we managed and so can celebrate the Shakespeare holiday. And obviously, it’s always fun to complete a large project on something you like.

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European Poet of Freedom is a poetry festival that takes place every two years in Gdańsk. It celebrates, as you might figure, European poets whose work focuses on, well, freedom and social concerns. We had the pleasure of designing the identity for this year’s event and various promo materials.

The festival has been using a rather nice logo, a black and yellow illustration of a broody poet looking at birds. Because it has become quite recognizable and because it offers fun elements to play with we opted to base the identity around the logo but to give its elements more life and dimension by using them as fragments of a paper composition.

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We inserted the poet and the birds into a cityscape suggestive of European cities, particularly Gdańsk with its characteristic tenant houses in the old town.

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The main image that we then adapted for various materials looked like in the poster above. We made the illustration more abstract and theatrical by adding threads for the birds and a frame that turns the whole scene into a picture. We wanted to create tension between symbols for freedom and for limitation. Initially we designed everything in black, yellow and white but added extra colors for the main promo materials, like the poster. We did keep the original color scheme for those materials that had a limited number of colors because of budget or production limitations, as in case of tote bags.

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The most complicated element of the identity is a brochure with the program of the festival. The interior had to be black and white so we didn’t use photos of paper compositions. Instead we only suggested them with similar shapes and typographic solutions.

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By the way, the festival took place this weekend and this year’s winner is Ana Blandiana from Romania so our congratulations to her.

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We had the pleasure of designing a simple identity for a project of Integralia Foundation called doradza.my (which translates something like we.advise). The foundation aims to make it easier for disabled people to re-join the job market and this particular project does it by offering educational online meetings. The logo combines a speech bubble with a wi-fi symbol. Once the identity was ready, we designed some materials based on it, the most exciting of which is a notebook.

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Because the identity uses purple and red the notebook is printed only with these two Pantone colors. Inside in addition to writing space the owner will find information about searching for a job, helpful hints and statistics.

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As you might perhaps know we greatly enjoy designing infographics, graphs and such elements so this was quite a lot of fun but this project also meant that we got to focus more on production values than is often possible. Small color details of the notebook, together with the smooth, cream paper, make for an elegant, inviting feel. The bookmark, rubber band and thread are all red to offset the purple cover.

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And the cover has red hotstamping, making for a minimalist look. By the way, we are fans of hotstamping but actually rarely have a chance to work with it.

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Today a small sneak peek of a project we’re currently working on (because we really need to be working on it right now rather than posting). This might seem a little cryptic for now but it will become quite clear once we share the finished design in March (or so).

In other news, though, be sure to enjoy the extra day! We always feel an extra day is a definite cause for celebration (even if we won’t necessarily manage to do anything special today ourselves).

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So, did you have a good St Valentine’s Day? We had some tiny colorful cake, it was pretty good but we’re all for conventional, they-may-even-be-sappy holiday celebrations. We get if it’s not your thing, though.

Anyway, our Valentine-related project this year was a poster for Experyment Science Centre. Like last year, they prepared an evening of activities for adults, explaining love phenomena in scientific terms. We decided to create a poster that would form a series with the last one so once again we started with a romantic lady, this time surrounded by particles. Then we followed the client’s suggestion (which was a very good one) to add an android that would refer to the theme of the lecture and so the whole illustration got a sort of retro sci-fi character, which we’re very happy with.

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At the end of last year we designed the second volume of recipes from the cooking show Atelier of Taste, a brainchild of Jola Słoma and Mirek Trymbulak (here‘s volume one, by the way; it’s been a while since then). Jola and Mirek are fashion designers and chefs, now cooking only vegan and gluten-free meals, and the have gathered new 108 recipes to share with their viewers.

We couldn’t be happier with the assignment: not only are cookbooks always a fantastic thing to design but also we could go (a little bit) wild with special features and so the book has die-cuts and metallic spot colors.

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The spot color we used for the title page visible through the hole in the cover and for chapter title pages is one of those rarer metallic Pantones of a lovely magenta hue. We chose it because the identity of the show uses purple (and orange; we used mostly orange in the previous book) – and also because it’s quite striking. Since magenta is also used extensively on the show’s set, it appears in most photos and so the whole book gains a unified (purple) look. (All the photos used in the book are from the show’s archive.)

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Playing with special print methods is always fun but, of course, the real challenge in designing a cookbook – and so many other books – is the organization of information. Incidentally, it’s also one of our favorite things ever (because we’re loads of fun to hang out with).

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In addition to the list of ingredients and instructions, each recipe has a short introduction from the authors, time required for preparations, number of resulting portions and nutritional value. We used icons for these sections and, more excitingly, we also designed an icon for each type of dish, such as salad, cake, drink etc. (a total of 19 icons, not all of them quite easy to come up with). We used them by the page numbers and on chapter title pages (and on the contents pages, as shown below).

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Chapter intros consist of two spreads, one with a mosaic of photos and another, purple one with a short introduction. Thanks to the use of the same circular die-cut as on the cover, the two spreads are combined.

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We often say that this or that project was so much fun – and it’s true because we love a lot of things about our job – but few projects are as much fun as this one: a book, with special printing techniques and a whole lot of information to organize (and yes, spiral binding).

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January is always a good time to share calendar projects. This year we had the pleasure of designing a calendar for Energa, one of the biggest local providers of electricity. The calendar promotes their experimental project focused on renewable energy sources and is aimed at people whose households participate in the project.

The calendar is relatively small, spiral-bound (which might be our favorite kind of binding, but this time it was chosen by the client) and includes facts about the project and about energy saving practices.

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Since plastic was chosen for the cover, a part of the design is printed on the transparent plastic and the second part on the page underneath it so that together they form the whole image when the cover is closed. This bit of fun with the materials turned out even better than we expected.

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Colorful pages indicate the beginning of seasonal tariffs when electricity is priced differently: summer, winter and spring/fall tariff. The calendar spreads, on the other hand, are printed with just two Pantone colors, orange and gray.

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Each month also starts with a colorful page with the month’s number, while on the other side there is information about saving energy, e.g. about different kinds of electrical bulbs. We created a color palette, based on the colors of the project’s logo and broadened, so that each month’s separator page has a different color. (And if we were Irma Boom we’d love to have a different Pantone color for each month but that was a bit above the budget.)

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