A few months ago we finished a book for the Malbork Castle Museum.
The Malbork Castle is a world-famous heritage place, a 13th century castle built by the Teutonic Order (Malbork was then called Marienburg if that tells you more). It is a truly impressive historic monument well-worth visiting. The book is a scientific study of life in the castle at the time when the Teutonic Order lived there. It talks not only of politics and economy but also of minutiae of everyday functioning of this huge establishment.
The book’s design had to be sober not to distract from the academic content. Mainly, we had to make the information aesthetic and legible. We chose to use a golden-brown spot color for all the special texts in the book and for archival photographs which are printed in gold and black. The cover contains a golden-brown photo of the castle and the title is hotstamped in silver.
We will share more photos of the book later but for now they’re not properly edited so check back soon.
Today Poland, like a few other European countries, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of re-gaining independence in 1918. We were going to make a special post to celebrate this momentous occasion (we had an idea and everything) but life – literally – happened and we haven’t managed, which is a pity. So instead we’re sharing with you a design we made for local celebrations of this anniversary in Gdańsk.
It combines the words niepodległość (“independence”) with 100 so that the zeroes are also Os. The crown with two crosses is the symbol of Gdańsk and it’s placed symmetrically to the 100. The design uses gold with red and white, which are both the colors of Gdańsk and great colors for any Poland-related celebrations (red and white being the colors of the Polish flag).
“Gdańsk celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Polish independence.”
Last week heat waves defeated us but this week we finally managed to see the exhibition held in the Museum of Gdynia, showing the work of one of the greatest Polish designers, Karol Śliwka.
Śliwka worked for decades in the period of communist regime in Poland when the conditions for graphic design were completely different than they are now (long story). He almost single-handedly introduced logo modernism here and dominated the visual landscape. He created posters, packaging and, most of all, logos, following strict, intellectual rules according to which a mark needs to be the synthesis of ideas that represent a company or an institution in a beautifully geometricized form. What is more, unlike some other modernists’ of the period, Śliwka’s logos are rarely pure geometric experiments: they retain human heart, a sense of humor and joy, despite their minimalist form.
The exhibition shows him as a versatile designer, good with illustration, classically trained but particularly focused on his biggest love, logos (which he actually learned to design by himself, as he studied different disciplines). We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and encourage you to visit the exhibition, should you be in Gdynia soon(ish).
Below you can see the logo for Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Warszawy (The Society of Friends of Warsaw), which is probably our favorite of all Śliwka’s logos, simply because it had no right to work – and it does so well. The letters form the shape of a mermaid with a sword and a shield, the symbol of Warsaw.
A neon made from Śliwka’s signature.
On the wall you can see some of Śliwka’s posters, which he usually designed in a similar way to the logos.
Book and brochure covers.
Peace building and in the background a brilliant logo for the Institute of Mother and Child (a medical institution). It’s Lubalin-level brilliance, and we don’t say that lightly.
Packaging for sweets.
These are quite brilliant in the simple decisions made here.
A screen from a short, interesting movie about Śliwka in which, our friend Patryk Hardziej shows to him pages devoted to his work in Taschen’s Logo Modernism. Patryk is one of the creators of the exhibition and a great champion of Śliwka’s work, and he’s been working on popularizing it for a couple of years now.
As the summer season is slowly approaching, we’re sharing today a very summery book we designed last year for the Museum of Gdańsk. It is a catalog for an exhibition showing postcards and photographs of beaches in Gdańsk before 1939: some of them still exist while others no longer serve as recreational beaches. The catalog included most of the photos shown on the exhibition but we could present them in any way we wanted.
The visual material was very rich and quite exciting once you really delved into it (all the old swimwear!) but in its mass seemed a bit monotonous so we decided to make it more modern. We created a sunny, cheerful color palette to color the photographs and added illustrative, geometric elements: stripes, waves, birds etc.
On the cover we used varnished stripes on an old photo that the Museum wanted to use. The stripes – inspired by old swimsuits – are the main visual motif organizing the entire layout, including its geometry.
Beginning of a chapter.
Page numbering close-up.
Sometimes we chose fragments of photographs to use.
While the sheer amount of photographs to edit made it an intense publication to work on, we’re very happy with the final results.