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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.

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.

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.

This week we have great news to share. Our design of the book Reports of the Society for the Reconstruction and Beautification of the Malbork Castle (this title!) has won two design awards: DNA Paris Award and Communication Arts Award! We are overjoyed about the news and we thank the Castle Museum of Malbork for trusting us.

You can see more photos of the book in the previous post or on our website.

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.
Yellow details!
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.

The proper post is in the making but in the meantime we just wanted to share the good news that two books we designed last year were shortlisted in the competition “The Most Beautiful Books of the Year” organized by the Polish Association of Book Publishers. Thanks to the jury and to the Museum of Gdańsk and the Castle Museum of Malbork for the amazing collaborations!

You can see the post about Sapientia… here and Cities… here.