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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.

We’re falling behind stuff again but here’s the missing C from our Working Girls series ABC that we showed last time. The other letters are coming when we catch up on either work or sleep (we don’t hope for both). C is for Carpenter, of course.

And this is the logo of the series.

Last year the Museum of Gdańsk was celebrating its 50th anniversary. We had the honor and pleasure of being graphically involved in these celebrations. We designed the logo of the anniversary and a book on the history of the institution. Covid restrictions meant that the celebrations were humbler than originally planned but the book makes it possible to prolong them with some solid history reading.

The logo of the anniversary uses the cross pattern from the regular logo, but interwoven with diamonds.

The book is titled “From the City Hall to the Museum”, which references the fact that one of the buildings belonging to the Museum is an old city hall of Gdańsk. Through five essays the book tells the story of the then-young Museum of Gdańsk: how it was established among the political upheaval of the 1950s Poland, how the buildings were slowly reconstructed after the war’s destruction and how the young institution was involved with the life of the city’s inhabitants. It’s quite fascinating for any history lover.

The logo for the Museum’s anniversary inspired the design. We used the diamond pattern and gold paint throughout the book. We drew another inspiration from old newspapers which constituted an important source material for the book’s authors. We used a golden diamond raster on some of the photographs to recall the raster of old newspapers and chose typographic solutions that also bring them to mind. Red color and thick frames also appear in the design for that reason.

In addition to the golden color of the frame, the cover has embossed diamond pattern. The cool photo shows workers installing a reconstructed sculpture of the king.
A title page of the first article, about the life in Gdańsk in 1960s.

Additionally, some of the pages fold out to highlight the most interesting photos, with a detail of the same photo printed in the golden raster on the cover of the folded page.

We again congratulate the Museum on the occasion and wish it 500 years more!

As Santa was generous with our book gifts this year, we are happy to share the first one: a monograph on Stockholm Design Lab, a studio from, you guessed it, Stockholm, who we’ve been admiring for a while. Their truly impressive portfolio of work includes nothing less than the identity for the Nobel Prize.

The book is also impressive in its own right: solid, hefty, generous with white space, leaving you a lot of air to admire the designs. It is not afraid to spend an entire spread on a single blown-out image and it even uses hotstamping inside the book. Yes, inside. SDL’s designs are characterized by a certain austerity, minimalism and focus on ideas that is sometimes hard to pull off in client work and that makes it all the more impressive that these designs came into existence.

A case of the beautiful golden hotstamping inside. There are more.

It’s the most magical time of the year and it’s also our 10th anniversary (not specifically on Christmas, but why not combine two good things?).

On this occasion we want to wish you the merriest, calmest time this Christmas, may it renew your spirit and make you hopeful and cheerful.

As for the anniversary, we had so many plans to celebrate it graphically but, of course, life got in the way, as it does, and we poured it all into the ten Christmas trees. But those projects are brewing and will show up eventually! Peace!

As promised last week, we are sharing the proper photos of the temporary monument built in front of the city hall in Gdynia to commemorate the shipyard workers killed in December 1970 by the communist governement.

The display combined architectural design, animation and graphic design to share information about the events that happened 50 years ago in the city streets. We were touched to see positive, interested reactions of people who happened to come by to see the display as we were taking photos of it.

This was a difficult, also emotionally difficult, topic to work on (it also included time restraints and lots of spray painting) but seeing the raised construction at night was quite powerful.

Credits: concept and architectural design by Anna Grabowska with the technical help of Tomek Sokolski, script by Maugo Domańska, animations by Esy-floresy Studio, management by Hilta/Paulina Neugebauer.

Section titles are taken from a famous, vernacular song about the events, “Janek Wiśniewski Fell.” The wall below shows the entire song. Many of the archival photos from that day, including the one used below, show a crowd of people carrying the body of the killed boy on a door. This became a powerful symbol.

This is the wall with the animation panel – it’s hard to tell in some of the photos because the animations fit so well with the rest of the design, thanks to the great work of Esy-floresy.
Above the title wall (with the Year 1970 Gdynia) there’s another, smaller animation panel (with the eye).

In addition to the construction, another commemorative design consisted of a series of black flags/banners spread over the main street of Gdynia. Some of them were entirely black while others carried first names and ages of the people killed in those events.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic events that took place in some cities in Poland, including Gdynia, where we live, in December 1970. Poland was then under a communist regime and at this time people went on strikes caused by the rise of prices of basic articles. The situation escalated to shootouts in the streets, which resulted in deaths and injuries. In Gdynia most of the victims were young men going to their work in the shipyard. Here’s a Wikipedia link for a small article on the subject.

We had the priviledge of working on an installation commissioned by the city of Gdynia to commemorate the events. The installation was conceived and designed by Anna Grabowska with the technical help of Tomek Sokolski, the texts were written by Maugo Domańska, and animations done by Esy-floresy Studio with the whole thing managed by Hilta/Paulina Neugebauer (and this was really a dream team to work with).

The design we created was meant to be a little dirty, so that it doesn’t look like a typical street exhibition about historical events but that it brings to mind a street object that got written over. We used archival materials: articles and photographs. Some of them, showing crowds, are placed in such a way as to make the passerby feel a part of the demonstrations.

Today we are sharing some making-of photos (building-of, to be precise) taken last Monday, with the installation still being raised. It’s up now in front of the city hall – if you happen by Gdynia, be sure to swing by. We’ll show you the end result once we take the photos of the finished structure.