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We’ve been mostly stuck at home for the longest time now but at least one of the books we designed got to travel far. Theodor Joseph Blell Inventory for the Castle Museum of Malbork was awarded last year in the Most Beautiful Polish Books Competition and together with the other winners it is exhibited in Taiwan Design Museum in Taipei! We are sharing with you a few photos we received courtesy of the Museum and below please find a fragment of the press release. This is quite exciting for us!

What an interesting typography in this poster.

What is the meaning of a ‘beautiful’ book and the ‘virtue’ underneath the surface of a book? These books are not just any books – this will be made clear at Not Just Library of Taiwan Design Research Institute, where the very rare, extraordinary and first exhibition of The Most Beautiful Polish Books takes place in early 2023 during the Lunar New Year from 17 January to 19 March. Curated by the Sasson Kung – an expert in European graphic design and Jessie Chen – the publisher of a graphic design zine Circle, the exhibition is hosted and organized by the Taiwan Design Research Institute with contributions from Polish Office in Taipei and the full, unconditional support from The Polish Association of Book Publishers (PTWK) – bringing the magnificent results of the Most Beautiful Polish Books competition 2021 (the 62nd in its long history) to the audience in Taiwan. The Institute also liaises with Taipei Book Fair Foundation to jointly celebrate the Guest of Honor – Poland at the Taipei International Book Exhibition this year. […] Collectively these books portray the breadth and depth of subjects (history, arts, music, theatre, movies, social issues…) and demonstrate the mastery in editing, visual and graphic arts (some subtle, some bold, classic, modern, simplistic, intricate, eccentric… but always functional) with the support of exquisite printing crafts in contemporary Polish publishing industry. They manifest the unique ‘beautiful’ viewpoints and styles, remind the audience of the great achievements of Polish graphic design throughout its history (the renowned Polish School of Posters in 1950s–60s) and prove how design could evolve without losing its essence, heritage and identity.

From Taiwan Design Museum materials
On the left in the back you can see the Blell cover adapted for a promo poster!
All the photos in the post except for this one by Taiwan Design Museum. This one just to remind you the book.

So did you guess from last week’s drawings that the thing that weirdly inspired us to draw an entire poster (not sure if it’s exactly a poster but that seems the closest) is the song “Twelve Days of Christmas”?

It was on our car Christmas playlist and since the kids insited we listened to the playlist a lot, we always got the song stuck in our heads (we’re talking the Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters version). Drawing it seemed like the most natural next step, didn’t it? Probably not, but we had, unusually, a little time after Christmas and chose to play with very traditional, very unpolished drawing that we rarely get to do anymore. Were it an actual job, we’d have chosen a very different style but this proved very relaxing. And time-consuming – but mainly relaxing.

If you like to know about technical details, the drawings were done with brushmarkers, and then everything was arranged on the green background on the computer. I watched most of The White Lotus and some more while doing it, just so you get some idea.

Hope your year is starting well and you’re full of energy. We have some doubts about the wisdom of starting the new year in January, arguably one of the least inspiring months of the year, but we’ve been working quite intensely all the same. In fact, we spent some time after Christmas doing something entirely for fun, which we hadn’t done a lot last year, and today we’re sharing some illustrations from that little project. We’ll show you all of it next week but if in the meantime we wonder if you can guess what the project was about.

It’s crazy how behind we are with sharing our current (and less-than-current) projects. We have some of them photographed, some even edited, and tons waiting to be photographed (anybody wants to intern with that? It’s super boring so probably not). But. This book absolutely needs to be shared because it’s one of our favorite projects from the last year. It is titled Regnum defendo ense et alis tego stricto and it is a second book in a series, after Sapientia aedificavit sibi domum that we designed before (you can see it here). It accompanied the second in a series of exhibitions on the history of the Malbork Castle – this one showing the history after the Teutonic Knights, when Malbork became a part of the kingdom of Poland.

The design of the book is at its core based on Sapientia… but the color scheme, elements of the typography and layout were updated to match the second exhibition. The strong typographic arrangements are inspired by books from the period and appear not only on the cover but also on the title pages and in the introductions of all the articles. The title on the cover is debossed in golden foil. The half dust-jacket with a crest – from a document whose motto was used to title the exhibition – unfolds to a double-sided poster. This books is less minimalistic than the first one (or, appropriately, more “baroque”) and as such was a different kind of challenge and fun to work on.

You can find a few more images on our website.

A while back we told you about the workshop we ran where people had a chance to create their own food lettering. Today we’re finally sharing some of the really cool results.
Disclaimer: because of the data protection (and because we don’t really have the names of all the authors) we’re not signing any of the designs. But if it’s yours and you want credit, please let us know!

Before it all started, some of the materials we prepared.
And as it was happening.

And finally, some of the works:

A super impressive, confident work with a smart use of the natural veggie curves.
A classic theme. And look at this ingenious heart.
This is by our youngest participant who designed his name.
And another name piece, this time by a slightly older author.
Just initials, but with a creative, varied use of apples.
The beginning of a cool leek alphabet.
This one impresses us a lot, we love the varied Os and the use of seeds. It means “calmness.”
This fun, rich work says “Your choice.”
There was definitely a common theme for some of the works. This is another example of confident decision-making.
Some people chose to do illustrations instead of letters, and how could we mind if the results are so awesome.

Thank you, everyone, for participating, it was more fun than we expected and the effects really impressed us. And for those of you who might worry, we salvaged what was salvagable (most of it ended up in a soup) and composted the rest. See you next time!

We are very happy to share with you the fact that Theodor Joseph Blell Inventory received awards in The Most Beautiful Polish Books competition. The book received an Honorary Mention and a Special Award for perfect typesetting. This book, which we described in detail here, was an exciting challenge and we are delighted to have it noticed, also in its more technical, less flashy aspect that nonetheless cost us a lot of time and ingenuity. (Those tables!)

Tomorrow we’re participating in a double event. It consists of a promotion of the book Fête funèbre or Art and Death, which is published by the Painting Department of the Academy of Fine Arts and which we designed. The book follows an exhibition catalog that we designed a few years ago and includes essays on the subject of how death influences art. (We will obviously show you the book once we have it.)

The other event is an opening of an exhibition titled Hamlet’s Prop: Skull in Visual Arts and among some great works there will be also our modest poster from the Iconic Painters series, on de La Tour.

We also had the pleasure of designing the poster for the event: it combines a plant motif used for the book cover with a skull invoked by the exhibition’s title. You can see a simplified version above (with way less text than in the printed version but the same illustration). If you’re in Gdańsk and in a slightly morbid mood, come join us!

This used to be a guessing game but we already told you the answer.