It only took us forever but we finally finished with the photos and can tell you more about the exciting book project we did, celebrating a building called Infobox that was added to the landscape of Gdynia not so long ago. This is what the building looks like (promotional materials of the city):
It was created to revitalize an unkempt square in the very center of Gdynia, built in harmony with and even onto the existing structures. It made the area attractive for all the citizens, rather than just those that drank beer in crummy bars that used to be there. The building’s architecture, while controversial, is quite striking. It consists of several linked structures, the most characteristic being the one on the right, as if built of glass boxes. It also references the modernist tradition of Gdynia’s architecture. The building houses some city offices, a nice cafe/restaurant and is a convenient place of meetings and rest. The people working there also organize events promoting the city and the publication of this book was one of such.
The idea to use this building as a tool to teach children about architectural concepts came from the local foundation Architektura+ and its lovely leader Anna Wróbel-Johnson, who’s the author of the text and who invited us to design and illustrate the book. If you know anything about us, you know it was pretty much the perfect assignment. Not only is it an interesting book by itself, but also we got a lot of freedom to design it and, as a huge, grid-shaped cherry on the top, it allowed us to play with our beloved modernist tradition.
The book is aimed at older children and through the example of Infobox it introduces children to such ideas as function, composition, perspective etc. It promotes learning through doing by offering a selection of fun activities to be performed, many of which require visiting Infobox and observing it closely.
The book is spiral-bound, which is definitely one of our favorite types of binding. The thick carton cover has a die-cut hole in the shape of an isometric outline of a box, which shows a box-constrained lettering underneath. And voila, once you open the cover, the letters get “out of the box,” to illustrate the unconventional thinking that the book promotes.
The shapes you can see in the photo above are elements of a paper model of the building that Architektura+ created and which accompanied the publication. Children could cut it out and create the model (and I’m sure they managed it better than we did).
The book is color-coordinated: each chapter has its lead color, as shown on the contents page above. Obviously, the motif of a box organizes much of the design. In homage to modernist design, we also used strict grid and a modernist, sans serif typeface (one of our favorites, too).
Each chapter starts with a colored page, introducing the concept of the chapter with an illustration and a quote. Above: Genius Loci, or the spirit of a place and Function (with icons depicting various things you can do in Infobox; in addition to the obvious, you may build Lego models there).
An additional bonus of this assignment was a chance to illustrate it in a modernist style. However, we will tell you much more about it next week when we focus specifically on the illustrative part of the job (we didn’t want this post to go on forever).
The chapter on materials ends with a tracing paper insert that can be used for making a frotage illustration.
The subject of the book required illustrating architecture, which we are always happy to do. In the spreads above you can see two well-known buildings of Gdynia.
Yep, it’s a modernist, Vitruvian woman. Tune in next week for the rest of the images.