I am absolutely thrilled to tell you that I have the honor of joining the Communication Arts jury panel for 2023 Design Competition!
Back when I was in high school (it was very much not an art school) my arts teacher had some CA annuals and they seemed to come from a different world (I didn’t even know what a job of a graphic designer meant), an utterly fascinating world that I felt drawn to. I was so excited when we realized we could participate in the CA competition and as a result we won our own Awards of Excellence. But never ever did the 18-year-old me (or, you know, older me) think I would be asked to judge other people’s entries. I am really looking forward to seeing all the amazing work submitted this year!
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.
So did you guess from last week’s drawings that the thing that weirdly inspired us to draw an entire poster (not sure if it’s exactly a poster but that seems the closest) is the song “Twelve Days of Christmas”?
It was on our car Christmas playlist and since the kids insited we listened to the playlist a lot, we always got the song stuck in our heads (we’re talking the Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters version). Drawing it seemed like the most natural next step, didn’t it? Probably not, but we had, unusually, a little time after Christmas and chose to play with very traditional, very unpolished drawing that we rarely get to do anymore. Were it an actual job, we’d have chosen a very different style but this proved very relaxing. And time-consuming – but mainly relaxing.
If you like to know about technical details, the drawings were done with brushmarkers, and then everything was arranged on the green background on the computer. I watched most of The White Lotus and some more while doing it, just so you get some idea.
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.