In 2018 Poland, together with many other countries, celebrated a 100 years of independence. This occasioned many interesting projects and we had the pleasure of being involved in one of them. Zajezdnia History Center organized an oral history project in which interviewers talked to around a hundred people whose age neared a hundred (and so the age of independent Poland). The results were published in a book called Contemporaries of Polish Independence that we designed.
The interviewees talked about their life and how it was affected by the turbulent hundred years of the Polish century: from the 1920s and 1930s, through WW2 and the communist regime up to the actual independence and democracy. The book is divided into chronological chapters and illustrated with private photographs, some of them quite amazing.
Even though we were tempted to emphasize parts of the text, the editors wanted all the interviews treated equally not to single anybody out and so we simplified the original typographic project. We added purple to national Polish colors (red and white) so that the overall result is more interesting. The cover includes portraits of all the people from the book, while the hotstamped empty circles suggest all the other centenarians who also witnessed the last hundred years in Poland.
Table of contents.
This might be the best photo in the entire book. But the competition is strong.
What did we say about amazing photos? This gem reminds us of a famous photographer Tadeusz Rolke’s work but it comes from a private photo album.
In the 19th century the Malbork Castle, now a world heritage site, was in a bad shape, used for commercial purposes, its buildings in disrepair. The Society for the Restoration and Beautification of the Malbork Castle was established to gather finances and organize the necessary repairs. For 50 years the Society published its reports on how the works were going, including lists of members, financial assets and especially the progress of renovations.
Now these reports, a valuable source of information on the history of the Castle, are published in Polish by the Castle Museum in Malbork. The large book contains the translations of all the original reports, together with articles, explaining the background of the organization.
The main challenge and the main attraction of designing this book lay in combining the nods to the original reports with modern design. The originals were hardly consistent, changing visual styles every now and then, and even the logic of the internal organization, while it was our job to restore those. To reference the originals we used German typefaces from the early 20th century, table designs and ornaments are also inspired by the originals.
The idea for the cover comes from how the original reports were bound: in hand-made marbled paper. We ordered sheets of this (though, of course, the budget only allowed the use of scans in the final book) and, in fact, we had to change the pattern a few times because each time a type of paper was chosen it proved sold-out before we ordered it. The price of working with single copies, I guess. This paper is combined with canvas and the only words are printed in rose-gold foil on the canvas.
And in case anybody cares, the work on this book was great fun!
Title page of 1896 report with a custom ornament.
The tables list all the financial assets for a given time period.
There’s double page numbering. This close-up shows a page number from the original report.
Title page for one of the introductory articles. Also: marbled paper.
Last year the Museum of Gdańsk was celebrating its 50th anniversary. We had the honor and pleasure of being graphically involved in these celebrations. We designed the logo of the anniversary and a book on the history of the institution. Covid restrictions meant that the celebrations were humbler than originally planned but the book makes it possible to prolong them with some solid history reading.
The logo of the anniversary uses the cross pattern from the regular logo, but interwoven with diamonds.
The book is titled “From the City Hall to the Museum”, which references the fact that one of the buildings belonging to the Museum is an old city hall of Gdańsk. Through five essays the book tells the story of the then-young Museum of Gdańsk: how it was established among the political upheaval of the 1950s Poland, how the buildings were slowly reconstructed after the war’s destruction and how the young institution was involved with the life of the city’s inhabitants. It’s quite fascinating for any history lover.
The logo for the Museum’s anniversary inspired the design. We used the diamond pattern and gold paint throughout the book. We drew another inspiration from old newspapers which constituted an important source material for the book’s authors. We used a golden diamond raster on some of the photographs to recall the raster of old newspapers and chose typographic solutions that also bring them to mind. Red color and thick frames also appear in the design for that reason.
In addition to the golden color of the frame, the cover has embossed diamond pattern. The cool photo shows workers installing a reconstructed sculpture of the king.
A title page of the first article, about the life in Gdańsk in 1960s.
Additionally, some of the pages fold out to highlight the most interesting photos, with a detail of the same photo printed in the golden raster on the cover of the folded page.
We again congratulate the Museum on the occasion and wish it 500 years more!
As promised last week, we are sharing the proper photos of the temporary monument built in front of the city hall in Gdynia to commemorate the shipyard workers killed in December 1970 by the communist governement.
The display combined architectural design, animation and graphic design to share information about the events that happened 50 years ago in the city streets. We were touched to see positive, interested reactions of people who happened to come by to see the display as we were taking photos of it.
This was a difficult, also emotionally difficult, topic to work on (it also included time restraints and lots of spray painting) but seeing the raised construction at night was quite powerful.
Credits: concept and architectural design by Anna Grabowska with the technical help of Tomek Sokolski, script by Maugo Domańska, animations by Esy-floresy Studio, management by Hilta/Paulina Neugebauer.
Section titles are taken from a famous, vernacular song about the events, “Janek Wiśniewski Fell.” The wall below shows the entire song. Many of the archival photos from that day, including the one used below, show a crowd of people carrying the body of the killed boy on a door. This became a powerful symbol.
This is the wall with the animation panel – it’s hard to tell in some of the photos because the animations fit so well with the rest of the design, thanks to the great work of Esy-floresy.
Above the title wall (with the Year 1970 Gdynia) there’s another, smaller animation panel (with the eye).
In addition to the construction, another commemorative design consisted of a series of black flags/banners spread over the main street of Gdynia. Some of them were entirely black while others carried first names and ages of the people killed in those events.
This year the Museum of Gdańsk is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To emphasize this important occasion this year’s calendar that we designed presents a selection of archival photos of Gdańsk from the Museum’s collection, taken by a great photographer, Marian Murman.
The design was to be simple, with large, clear calendar and the photos in their original black-and-white colors. We used a metallic spot color for elements of the design and for the entire cover. Sometimes when you work with good photographic material it’s a pleasure to take a step back and let it speak for itself.
Dobry Wzór is a Polish design competition interesting in that designers cannot submit their work. Rather, the jurors look for interesting designs among products available commercially on the Polish market and choose nominations from among them, focusing on those producs which provide the customers with good design value. So it was a big deal to us when the book was noticed and nominated for the competition and we are overjoyed now that it’s among the finalists. The book will also be seen shown in a post-competition exhibition later in Autumn.
Recently we showed you the family of urban explorers designed to promote the city of Gdynia as a tourist destination. The family has now gained new incarnations and visited new sites of the city in the additional illustrations we created. They are lazing on the beach and staying active by the seaside.
And in the animations created by Esy-Floresy Studio, who invited as to this collaboration, the family explores much more! They see the modernist architecture, train and finally relax. You can see the animations on Esy-Floresy’s YT channel here (this is the first one).
Hope everyone is having a good, relaxing summer!
This is the family on the beach by the center of the city. The fish monument is one of the characteristic sites of the city. In the background you can see the yacht harbor and one of the modernist buildings that create the landscape of Gdynia.
Here the family relaxes in Orłowo, a pretty district by the sea, with two well-known attractions in the background: the cliff and the wooden pier.
The Poor, the Sick, the Orphaned. Hospitals of Gdańsk from the Middle Ages till Modern Times is a book we designed for the Museum of Gdańsk. It describes the phenomenon of Gdańsk’s early hospitals, which date back to the Middle Ages and which started as religious charity ventures for people that had nowhere else to go. In fact, the first hospitals had surprisingly little to do with what we think of as hospitals today. The book accompanied an exhibition that we also designed and that was prepared by the historians of medicine.
The title of the book is printed on the cover with red shiny foil and throughout the book we used the original etchings and paintings that illustrated the history of Gdańsk’s hospitals in the exhibition so that it’s part collection of historical essays and part catalogue.