Last week we introduced our project Words Matter, a series of book covers employing tangible type so it’s high time to start sharing the covers. The first one is one of the simplest (and definitely, definitely the easiest and fastest to make) but it’s still one of our favorites because of the simple fact: the letters of the title form a pyramid so well and it illustrates the book so perfectly. When we discovered this we were really excited and the cover almost designed itself.
Abraham Maslow, one of the great in the history of psychology, studied child development and came up with the idea of the hierarchy of needs, which he expressed in 1954 book Motivation and Personality. He illustrated the idea with a neat diagram in the shape of a pyramid. Unlike for other covers we didn’t create the letters: we used ready-made children blocks. We actually bought a whole set of the classic-looking wooden kind, similar to ones we had as children. We really liked the vivid colors and emphasized them with the bright warm yellow background to add to the sense of fun and play.
As was our plan with all the covers, the selected material and form illustrated the important themes of the book: not only the pyramid itself, but also children and their way of combining fun with education.
As you will see, for all the covers we offset the extravagant tangible type with simple typography used for the name and spine and the logo we described last week. Back covers were not actually a big part of the academic project, just a chance to play some more with the solutions chosen for each cover. For each back we created the WM logo in the same way as we did the title on the front. As you may see, the design of the back cover also includes the space for a blurb but have not written the blurbs, not yet anyway, so for now the backs are fairly minimalistic.
And a completely different thing that you might find interesting: it’s another week of free shipping on Society6 so if you wanted to buy a poster, that’s as good a chance as they get. Simply use this link.
Here goes: we did read Fifty Shades of Grey. We tend to read bestsellers in hope that what made so many people happy will also work for us. Well, it’s sometimes true; sometimes it definitely isn’t. With Fifty Shades we got to be a hit at parties for a little while when we summarized the story to people who had not read it (“No way! You’re making it up, right?”) so there’s that. But, all in all, we don’t really get the popularity of this book.
One thing we found very puzzling was the style of the book and, among other things, how some words would keep reappearing even though they didn’t really fit. Maybe because of our recent work on Friends, we thought how a word-of-the-day toilet paper (the kind that Joey once had) would explain the use of certain words. And once we thought of it, we simply had to reverse engineer this imaginary item and share it with you.
Well, we simply had to comment on the phenomenon of Fifty Shades, using the occasion of the world première of the movie. If you count yourselves among the fans, bear with us: I’m sure you hate something we love, too. If you don’t: yep. This book might be a terrifying social experiment. Otherwise, we just don’t get it.
Also, happy Valentine’s!
As you may have observed we are big fans of a Warsaw illustrator Marianna Oklejak. During a trip to Warsaw two years ago we found her wonderful illustrated history of the city of Warsaw that we determined to buy but before we got to it (long story, doesn’t matter) it turned out to be sold out. We discovered they were considering a reprint but not really actually doing it. So imagine our delight when looking half-heartedly for a gift for a niece in a small, chain bookstore we found a forgotten copy of the book. Maybe it got overlooked because it was somewhat warped or maybe because the cover doesn’t entirely do justice to the great contents but the more lucky us. We bought it and we can share it with you today.
It’s a large-format, cardboard book and each spread presents a dense illustration of the map of Warsaw in a particular historical moment. Detail-heavy drawings provide a wealth of details that you can look at for quite a long time, admiring subtle sense of humor. We particularly like that some characters, for instance the siren of Warsaw (the symbol of the city) or a pair of bears, resurface in every spread in various roles.
The oldest history of Warsaw, full of pagans and missionaries and wild animals.
The time when quarrelsome nobles ruled the country.
The charming 20s.
Rebuilding of the city after the war (a personal favorite spread).
The gray early 1980s.
Modern Warsaw, full of traffic jams and billboards (but also cultural events).
Manuals 1, a book by Unit Editions, is one of the crowning jewels of our little collection.
This hefty tome represents some of the best examples from the golden era of logo design. Notable examples include Lufthansa, NASA and New York City Transit Authority, most known for its iconic presentation of station names and NY metro signage. The book includes a foreword by one of its creators, the legendary Massimo Vignelli.
The layout of the book is highly functional, with the manuals photographed in a no-thrills fashion and all the details preserved. And rightly so, as those are some of the examples of graphic design at its best.
Manuals 1 is sold out right now, and there’s little chance it will ever be reprinted. Fortunately, you can preorder Manuals 2, by going to the publisher’s website. Even though the publishers are not paying us for the subtle product placement (and too bad), we wish them all the success.
Guys, we have so many ideas for fun, time-consuming posts and for some of them we even have all the illustrations (sort-of) ready. But today is not the day we will share one of those. Instead here’s a sneak peek of two illustrations from our current project, a very exciting one for us, a book for children about local architecture. It’s keeping us occupied now, together with an extensive house repairs project (ugh, aren’t those the worst?), and so the big posts have to wait a little longer.
Of course, we’ll share more of the book once it’s ready.
While we’re still swamped with a ton of work, we took a (very short) break to share with you one more book we bought after our trip to London and it might be actually our favorite. It is called Walk This World by Lotta Nieminen and it shows a walk through various cities of the world in one day. Each spread is given to one city that the children should guess, using such clues as clothing, bits of language, famous monuments and even colors. Some are harder, some easier but all very pretty.
But that’s not even the best part, cool as it is! The best part is that it has those flaps of paper you can open to peek underneath and see what’s inside the buildings. I’m sure we’re well past the target age but we thoroughly enjoyed opening those windows and doors and chuckled at the humorous illustrations. Combined with nice illustrations, an exquisite sense of color and good production values, this is another book on our long list that we recommend to all you book aficionados out there, whether you have children or not.
The whole journey starts in New York. (Sorry for the gif-y graininess but we wanted to show you the hidden illustrations.)
This is Sydney spread with its lovely color palette and whatever’s hiding in a kangaroo:
Of course we couldn’t overlook Paris, with Mona Lisa hidden in the Louvre:
And here’s Italy and the insides of a volcano:
(Italy actually looks like a mix of several cities, which is a bit surprising at least to our European sensitivities but whatever, it’s still gorgeous.)
As we keep working on our not-yet-to-be-shown projects, we use the opportunity to continue with the awesome books we have recently bought. We could be doing it for a year and more but we’re planning to actually return to showing our creative efforts soon. However, for today enjoy these.
In one of the previous book-related posts we showed you a catalog for Gierymski’s exhibition in Warsaw but that wasn’t all we brought from that show. The museum also published quite a charming companion publication for children. Now, we’re great fans of this kind of part-educational, part-entertaining materials accompanying exhibitions (hint, hint, we’d love to make some) and are often a little disappointed by their quality and lack of original ideas. But this one is actually what we might expect, with nice design and illustrations, tasks that make sense and even a pleasant kind of paper.
Alice in Wonderland and the Moomin series are some of these books that you don’t even have to come across in early childhood and you will still enjoy them and then the magic just stays with you forever. They are even not so much about storylines – though we love those too – as about the atmosphere. So finding a combination of both in Tate’s bookstore in the form of Alice illustrated by Tove Jansson left us dumbfounded with delight. Apparently this was originally a Swedish edition then published by Tate in English and Jansson’s illustrating style matches wonderfully the dreamy nature of Carroll’s story. We’ve seen many versions of Alice‘s illustrations and normally we will always pick the classic version by John Tenniel, but this one is definitely worth having. Maybe because it has this nostalgic quality that books from childhood will have for adults.
And the last book is perhaps the most stunning of all. The High Street by Alice Melvin apparently won some sort of award for best new illustrator and no wonder at all. We also found it in Tate and fell in love with it but when we read it our fascination increased even. It tells a story of a girl gone shopping through an array of old-fashioned little shops, each selling one type of products rather than everything, mall-style. In this it basks in the passing (or maybe returning? that would be awesome) glory of small shops. The illustrating style is lovely in that it combines a bit of theme-becoming old-fashioned-ness with modern clarity. This is exactly what we love, especially seeing as each illustration has a lot of details and you can look at it over and over. But the best part is that the illustrations showing shops can be folded out to reveal the inside of the shop! Now, I’m quite secure in saying that many of you must share our fascination with the inside of buildings that you only see from the outside. As children we loved this kind of drawings and we still do. So, this is a perfect little book, both in idea and execution (it even has a plot twist!), and we encourage you to buy it, should you have a chance (no, no one is paying us for all these recommendations though they may, if they want to).