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.
We’re falling behind stuff again but here’s the missing C from our Working Girls series ABC that we showed last time. The other letters are coming when we catch up on either work or sleep (we don’t hope for both). C is for Carpenter, of course.
We are not often as engrossed in a movie as we were in
The Trial of the Chicago 7
What is it? An Aaron Sorkin movie about the aftermath of the Chicago riot of 1968.
Why we love it? This is a court drama, a period piece and also a political story with current overtones. It’s brilliantly written and impressively acted, particularly by Sacha Baron Cohen. It keeps you involved in the story, makes you angry, moves you and occasionally even makes you laugh.
Visually speaking, the period piece is done right, including the costumes, the interiors and, notably, the group scenes, which have both a personal feel and almost a sense of a documentary.
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!
We are late to the party: you’ve all probably already seen the spectacular miniseries, but we only watched it, delightedly, last month, and so we want to share our impressions and maybe convince a few other latecomers. So, do watch
A Queen’s Gambit
What is it? A period miniseries telling the story of Beth, an orphaned girl who develops a masterful skill at chess. From a Christian orphanage, through Kentucky suburbs, she rises to compete in the grandest international tournaments.
Why we love it? This is a beautifully done show, with a lot of attention to detail and a thrilling psychological portrait of an exceptional person. Some people claimed that it is interesting despite all the chess and thanks to the motifs of addiction and dysfunction, but we actually liked the chess (even though we’re very much not players or fans of the game).
Visually speaking, everything looks wonderful. The recreation of 1950s and 1960s is fantastic, with gorgeous outfits and interiors. Additionally, every new locale has its distinct visual character reflecting the changes in Beth’s life and commenting on them.
Continuing our post-Christmas nostalgia, this week we want to share a lovely picture book that our son got from Santa, Lots by Marc Martin (it’s translated as “A Million Things” into Polish so the cover looks rather different).
Each spread shows an interesting place on Earth: some are about cities, some about natural territories, picking out curios, fascinating animals and memorable constructions for an idiosyncratic, personal catalog of the wonders of the world. The illustrations are painted with a mix of lightness and precision, with distinct color palettes that don’t shy away from gray (as watercolor painters sometimes do). The author’s enthusiasm (if not uncritical) for the variety and richness of the things that make up our world is contagious.
Antarctic, water paints work great to show ice and water.
I have a feeling that in the original book everything was written by hand but the typeface chosen for translation actually works surprisingly well.