FdA Second Year, Week 10 (23/11/2015) – George Orwell Book Design


This brief was good – taking George Orwell books and re-designing them. A decent amount of thought went into doing this, too. The first step was looking at Jan Tschichold’s composition rules – why wouldn’t it be? This dude basically revolutionised the design of Penguin’s books… well, maybe not revolutionised but standardised them to shit. I mean, the guy basically set the fucking bar for how clear cut and organised book design should be. It’s symmetrical. It’s simple. It’s Tschichold and it’s a staple for the world of modernist book design.

Jan Tschichold's standardised book design.
Jan Tschichold’s standardised book design.

But part of the problem with books these days – and its a goddamn lamentable truth – is that nobody reads as much of them as they used to? Why would we? Why bother getting the material copy of something when you can store a bunch of entire books on a portable, small, electronic device? It’s almost sad to think that we’re losing out on a tactile, physical experience for the sake of technological convenience. (Holy shit, that rhymed.)

So what was my idea for this? Anytime I think about design or the convection of information (yes, I know I’m using this word wrong) I always get sucked back into that silly Helvetica movie. “Drink Coke. Period.” Get rid of the colourful crap, leave it to the bare simple minimum. The problem is that a few views in that movie also absolutely shit on that stupid, overly-fifties aesthetic of everything in cursive, italic writing. Modern design doesn’t usually allow it – its tacky – unless you’re being purposefully ironic or you balance it out with some sans-serif typeface. Sure, I get it.

But seriously. Fuck that.

George Orwell's Signature.
George Orwell’s Signature.

I decided that I wanted my design to be – for lack of a better word – elegant; create an image as opposed to creating images. For that I looked at modern packaging. Zanotti, Apple, Gucci, Dior. Many more. One thing they all have in common is the simplicity of their packaging. They’re boxes are clean, white with very little to no wording other than their branding – that’s what we’re hardwired to perceive as prestigious and what people want more than convenience is prestige; style, materialism – they want it to feel as though someone is gently tonguing their eyeballs with lubricated diamonds.

I opted to use no image because of those aesthetics. Clean, white cover. Simple, clean. White. Aesthetic. But there’s still gotta be a feature. I used Orwell’s signature for that. His personal touch. (or as personal as one can emulate it to be using photoshop and the interwebs)

A minor change had to be made to the Penguin logo (please don’t sue, this is non-profit) – I recoloured the background from orange to red. I used the Mistral Regular font to compliment the personal feel of Orwell’s signature – it was the middle-ground of elegance and readability. The red-white(-well-sorta-gray)-black colour scheme was chosen for its simplicity and its boldness – I mean, red is one hell of a fucking colour for marketing. It’s associated with passion, impulse and all forms of intense emotion. That colour scheme works well.

But this is what my cover was intended to be. Simple. Personal. Passionate. The information is there.

Boom. George Orwell.

Boom. Animal Farm.

Boom. A Modern Classic.

Buy Coke. Period.

-L.A. (Liam Morgan)

Parc Menai Foundation Degree Art and Design – Liam Morgan @ TwitterLiam Morgan @ Instagram – Helvetica | Gary Hustwit – Penguin Books


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