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On Saturday we took a day off and made a family trip to the local zoo in Gdańsk. The weather was just right and we had a great time. In the souvenir stand we found an interesting book that we’re sharing with you today: Planeta zoo (The Zoo Planet), which tells a bit of a history of zoological gardens and introduces various animals from Gdańsk’s zoo. The book tells interesting stories about the animals living in the zoo and will make our next trip so much more informed for our son, who will know the names of some of the animals. It is illustrated by Grażyna Rigall, whose watercolor illustrations have quite a lot of character and include funny little details.

We particularly like the zoo’s effort to publish a customized souvenir, which is thoughtful, informative and well-executed. Too often local tourist attractions don’t use the material they have to self-promote: their own exhibits and buildings. We would expect similar publications in each museum and fun spot. So many creative people could be hired for that and so many lovely objects could be made as a result.

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It is this time of year again: the time of sharing the Christmas gifts we got. Probably the most impressive one is this book we kind of bought for ourselves: Vaughan Oliver: Archive. We supported the book on Kickstarter and then waited for it to get published – it managed to come a while before Christmas.

The book contains a number of materials designed or used for design by Vaughan Oliver, a design legend. It is impressively printed on Munken paper (always a plus), with a silkscreen-printed slipcase using a specially commissioned shade of orange-red. Overall, it is one of those books which work almost more by impressions than by content but remind you why print isn’t really dead whatever some people might say.

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Today we’re sharing another book we designed for the Museum of Gdańsk. It is the first one in a series of books which will examine the history of various districts of the city of Gdańsk. It focuses on one of the lesser known districts called Chełm and presents scientific articles about its history, starting from its oldest past and coming to quite recent events. The articles are illustrated with photos and, particularly, maps.

As is always the case with designing scientific books, one has to find balance between the clear and legible presentation of serious, and sometimes a little dry, subject matter and an appealing visual character of the book. We used a strong lead color (it will change for future books in the series) and modern, clean typography. Page compositions favor the central axis. The cover uses a fragment of a lovely old illustration showing the district in question. The typesetting was quite a precise job because of a number of long footnotes but we enjoy this kind of labor (we’re not party people).

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One of the coolest jobs we have done this year so far was the design of an exhibition and catalog “The Gardens of Gdańsk” for the Museum of Gdańsk. We have tons of photos but they’re unedited so they have to wait a while longer but today we wanted to share a sneak peek at the catalog. The cover has green hotstamping and a half-dust cover. Inside you can find a ton of garden-related images. More to come soon(ish).

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We finally managed to photograph a book we designed earlier this year (others still await their turn because we suck at time management). The book, designed for the Museum of Gdańsk, describes in detail ship models that one can see in one of the Museum’s departments, the Artus Court: their built, history and more. The models are really something, by the way: big, colorful and quite impressive.  Modern and historical photographs show all aspects of the ships, including their interesting exposition in the historical interior of the building.

The book is meant as the beginning of a new series so we needed to come up with design solutions that could be repeated in other books with very different themes. We chose to add a spot color, this time a vivid dark blue that appears on the cover and inside of the book, on some photographs and in the text. The cover also uses silver hotstamping for the title to make it shine more on the blue background.

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The inside of the cover has a surprise for anyone who cares to open the flap.

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A spread including a historical photo in blue.

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And here’s the other flap. Our son loves uncovering the fish hiding underneath.

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While this is a fairly simple book design, it gave us a lot of joy to work on – as books usually do.

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As our focus drifts now a little to babies (and as we did some huge bookshelf cleaning recently), we remembered one of the first artsy books that our son liked: ABC by Bruno Munari. Bruno Munari was quite a fascinating Italian artist and children’s books were just a small part of his wide artistic and scientific explorations – but it’s the one we’re most familiar with. ABC is a classic letters primer, which uses very elegant, high-contrast typography and lovely, slightly old-fashioned illustrations. While this might not be a book in which you find new tiny details during each re-reading, its very simplicity appeals to children and its high aesthetic level develops their sensitivity.

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This is one gorgeous onion.

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Last time we talked about the huge Wyspiański exhibition we saw in Kraków and how impressed we were by the number of exhibits. But because of a mess of circumstances we didn’t get to spend as much time on the exhibition as we wanted to so we were glad to find a large, reliable catalog, presenting all the objects with descriptions.

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(We don’t necessarily agree with all the design choices made for the catalog but we don’t know how it was created and under what circumstances. We’re mostly just happy to have such a huge, nicely printed book full of Wyspiański’s work.)

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