Once again we got the absolute pleasure of designing a book in the series of catalogs for the Castle Museum of Malbork, the fifth one. This one consists of essays about the 19th-century attempts to restore the then-ruined castle to its former glory, inspired by Romantic fascination with the past.
Once again the color palette was inspired by the exhibition that preceded the book and we quite enjoyed working with this range of browns and golds (not our typical palette). While the layout and general typographic choices continue the line established in the previous publications, this one includes some nods to the 19th-century aesthetics and design. The pattern is derived from original historical illustrations. One of the most fun parts to design proved again the half dust-jacket. This time the outside is decorated with a pattern also designed from bits of historical drawings, resembling maybe a fancy gift paper?, and once you undfold it, it becomes an exhibition poster. We used an extra spot color, the lovely metallic beige, both inside the book and on the dust jacket, and a different spot color for the poster. The title is hotstamped with golden foil.
The previous books in the series can be seen here and here (we’ve yet to photograph the parts of the series with the exhibited works of art…). And here’s the book’s official description on our website with some more photos.
Our exhibition in the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk is open for a few more days (until Thursday) if you feel like dropping by. Otherwise, please enjoy a few photos that we took.
The gallery space is cozy, with a few charming details, including an old doorway. We chose a simple, minimalistic arrangement based on black and white, with coral-red accents. Since most of the book designs include patterns or ornaments we used those to design symbols so that each book is represented by one. We replaced most captions with those symbols, referring the viewer to the boards on the wall so that they can participate in a small riddle. (They don’t have to, of course, because it’s not hard to figure out which board goes with which book anyway.) From the boards they can learn details about the book they’re looking at: its client, technical specs, grid.
We’ve been busy working on a small exhibition of our books that will happen in our alma mater (and also a workplace of one of us), the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk. We will be showing a few of our books together with technical information about their design. If you’re around and are curious to see in the flesh the books we’ve been showing here, do drop by, either for the opening on the 20th or until the beginning of March. If it’s too far or otherwise inconvenient, we will share photos later. For now please enjoy the poster.
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.
As the title says, we are very happy to announce that the book we recently shared with you, Regnum defendo… designed for the Castle Museum of Malbork, received a Communication Arts Award for book design. We thank the jurors for recognizing our work and thanks to the client for letting us go a little wild with it.
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.
So this week let us share some news from the recent weeks.
First, we’re happy to share that two of our books from last year were shortlisted in the Most Beautiful Books of the Year competition! One of them, The Blell Inventory, we already shared, the other one, The Colors of Gdańsk, we’re still photographing! (We’re so behind with that…)
And second, during this year’s European Night of Museums we will participate in the event organized by the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, where we will conduct a tiny little typographic workshop. With the participants we will create typographic posters made of vegetable (and maybe fruit) letters. Hope to see some of you there (the space is limited but if you happen to be around Gdańsk and feel like that’s an interesting way to spend an hour, you can sign up here)!
It says “The Night of Museums” and our older son had a lot of fun helping with the letters. It seems he’ll learn strange typography before he learns to write properly.
Today we are sharing one of our most challenging and satisfying projects from the last year. The Castle Museum of Malbork owns a hand-written document that lists all the exhibits owned by the Museum at the end of the 19th century, created by Theodor Blell. In an attempt to study the history of its collection the Museum researchers have deciphered and translated the document so that it could be published in a book format.
The book consists of several parts: introductory essays, the translation of the document with numerous footnotes, photographic illustrations and the transcription of the original text. Most of the book only uses two colors: black and red, with the exception of the colorful photographic insert which we printed on glossier, more creamy paper. The main challenge of the design (that, to be honest, we loved) consisted of translating the looser spacial arrangement of the original lists into very strictly organized modern tables so that all the various (and not always consistent) distinctions used by the author wouldn’t get lost. Of course, a huge part of this was done by the translator but we enjoyed doing our part as well.
With the colors inside quite limited, we went for a minimalistic cover without actual print: the title is debossed and then hot-stamped with silver foil on bright gray canvas. Because of the nature of the text that consists mostly of ordered lists, the whole book – including the cover, the contents page and more – uses table-like arrangements that hover stylistically between the old and the new.
This photo from the colorful insert shows a spread from the original inventory: this is what all those tables looked like hand-drawn.