Yep, that’s right, another post about a series of designs. I don’t think I’ll need to go on for too long though, so do try and bare with me.
The June issue of Creative Review features a case study on Pentagram’s redesign of all the Vladimir Nabokov novels that Penguin publishes. The article got me thinking about how the success of a series is pegged to the designers bravery. What I mean by that is, that a big consideration when designing for a series is how far can you push the difference in the elements that make up each design. The problem you face is that if you leave the elements too similar you have yourself a safe, but boring series of work. But make them too different and you don’t have a series at all, just a disparate collection of (in this case) Nabokov books.
So the key is finding that balance, that’s what makes the Nobokov series a great example. Pentagram have used three elements to create their series. The first, a traditional looking cover design of an ornately bordered box, with centred type, is the foundation of the design, the template that the rest of the elements work off of.
Secondly each book features a patterned background, and though the patterns vary from book to book, they are in keeping with one another.
And third is the illustration; different illustrators were allocated a book each. Their starting point was the covers featuring the first two elements that Pentagram had started. The illustrators were allowed to draw what they wanted, whilst maintaining a certain respect for the structure of the first two elements (so no covering up the name of the author of book, but pretty much, anything else goes). This produced a third but wildly varying component, that when combined with the other two layers of elements creates three levels of consistency that results in a varied, but clearly identifiable series. A good job, well done!
Well, it looks like I did waffle on for a bit in the end. Never mind though, eh.