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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.

You can find a few more images on our website.

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!)

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.

Earlier this year we were awarded Communication Arts award for the design of Reports of the Society for the Reconstruction and Beautification of the Malbork Castle (this title is so long, huh?). Here‘s the project we shared earlier.

We finally received our very cool trophy and, even cooler, the design annual including the Reports and so many other wonderful designs. I might have shared this story or not but when I joined art class in my high school (which was a bit out of character for me and, as it turned out, life-transforming), the classroom had a collection of old Communication Arts annuals that I loved flipping through. They felt almost exotic and certainly exciting, the things you can do with simple drawing. It feels like a rather unique achievement to see our design in this publication.

The book by Jan Tymiński was published by the Naval Museum in Gdynia and describes the marine administration in the 1920s and 1930s in Gdynia’s port. We’ll be sharing more and more detailed photos of the book – and then we’ll tell you more about it – but for now please enjoy the sneak peek (editing these photos takes more time than it might seem).

First of all, we heartily apologize for the unseemly hiatus. In addition to the usual deadlines and organizational problems, this time included a hospital stay and recovery and this really messed up our schedule. Anyway, we’re back now and today we wanted to show you one of the books from our bookshelf that is frequently reached for by both us and our kids.

It is a full collection of little rhymed theater plays written by one of the best and funniest Polish writers for kids, Jan Brzechwa. Not only are these plays great reading, they were also incredibly illustrated by Magda Kozieł-Nowak and while scores of illustrators have tackled Brzechwa’s iconic poems, her illustrations have quickly become one of our favorites.

The best of these little plays retell famous fairy tales: Puss in Boots, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and others, in humorous and modernized versions. Kozieł-Nowak’s illustrations capture the whimsical storytelling and fill its world with hand-painted characters full of life and personality. She has a great touch for watercolors (or maybe gouache? or poster paint? looks water-based) and adapting illustrations to page layouts. And while the style of the book is consistent, each play has little visual features that differentiate it from the other ones. We feel this book deserves more recognition for all the fun it provides.

Cover page.
The prince from Princess and the Pea. Look at how the paint and the paper texture are used. Also, the little dog.
You have to love this wolf from Little Red Riding Hood.
Puss in Boots must be our favorite with the use of those swirly lines reminding us of French 18th century fashion. That, and this hair, of course. Such intelligent illustrations.