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The book Miasta skoszarowane (Cities as Military Barracks) by Jan Daniluk was published by the Museum of Gdańsk. This doctoral thesis describes the life in the cities of Gdańsk and Sopot during the Second World War when the German army stationed there and how this affected people’s life. A large part of the book focuses on the daily life under those difficult circumstances.

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Because of the subject matter we chose a strong visual language with some disconcerting elements. Everything is printed in black and vivid red, some elements are framed with thick broken frames symbolizing the oppresion of the period and many typographic elements are broken. We are grateful to the author (and quite impressed by him!) for his openness and trust in our ideas which led to an unusual historic book (and, of course, to the publisher for agreeing to all of this).

The cover with an archival photo. The broken frame is printed with black foil.

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The beginning of chapter three: a title spread and first pages.

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As promised last week, we are sharing with you one of our favorite designs of the last year: the book for the Castle Museum in Malbork, Sapientia Aedificavit Sibi Domum.

The book tells a story of the State of the Teutonic Order in Prussia in over a dozen scientific articles, both in Polish and in English. It accompanied a large exhibition organized by the Museum last year (exhibition design, elements of which we used for the book design, was created by Maciej Bychowski).

The book’s limited color scheme of black, white and silver is derived from the imagery of the Order, including the famous white coats with black crosses on the back that inspired our design of the dust jacket. When the dust jacket is unfolded, it doubles as a two-sided poster. On the silver cover the title is hotstamped in brighter silver and the exhibition logo is printed with spot varnish (only visible after removing the dust jacket). Inside we also used silver extensively, including in the photos and for title pages of the chapters. The proportions of the page are golden ratio. We allowed the elegant, classic typography to be the main design element in most of the pages.

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Dust jacket unfolded into a poster.

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Contents page.

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Title page for a Polish version of an article with two bookmarks visible.

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The beginning of an article.

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Silver photo on black.

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Title page of an English version of an article (silver on white).

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We loved working on this book and hope it shows in the design.

 

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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.

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We will share more photos of the book later but for now they’re not properly edited so check back soon.

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After a Valentine’s Day related interlude, we come back to the rest of the exhibitions about the gardens of Gdańsk, designed for the Museum of Gdańsk. The general explanation is here, in part one. Today’s photos show the other, pink room (and glimpses of the blue one) which focused on the philosophy of gardening in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A section on garden benches with a bench where a visitor could rest.

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A glimpse of the original interior of the museum: a stucco ceiling.

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The blue room held original art and a huge printout of a historical photo.

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…and this guy.

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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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