Category Archives: publishing

Judge a book by its cover. It sometimes guides.

Gustave Flaubert's "Madame Bovary," cover designed by Manolo Blahnik

Rebelling against the well-known adage can sometimes lead to trouble but for graphic designers, a book’s cover can hold significance.

The Penguin Classics edition of novels come to mind immediately when I think of a great book cover. The minimalist esthetic of the books is from the genius by the name of Jan Tschichold, a well-known typographer who had studied calligraphy and had a background in artisanat. His experience with papers of different qualities and weights gave him an edge over other typographers.

Tschichold was deeply influenced by the Weimar Bauhaus which steered him in the minimalist direction, after the first exhibition in 1923. A manifesto for Modernist design was written thereafter by the man, whose work was considered by Hitler a threat to the German people, after Tschichold’s arrest for ‘cultural Bolshevism.’ The printed word is powerful.

Working for Penguin Books has led to Tschichold’s immortality, at least in the shelves of bibliophiles and design-o-philes everywhere. There is even a WordPress template, the digital reincarnation of this very intriguing designer.

Penguin’s legacy in book cover design has led to collaborations with designers Ron Arad and Manolo Blahnik. Yes. You read correctly. Even classics like Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky have to remain current. As a literature enthusiast and design enthusiast, there is nothing better than having the best of the written word and design. Even better, a designer piece for less than $15. Manolo Blahnik has never been so accessible.

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