designers on their favorite book covers


On World Book Day 2019, we ask graphic designers about books from the past year that they believe epitomize great print design, from dystopian fiction to political commentary.

Adrian Shaughnessy, graphic designer and co-founder, Unit Editions

VNIITE: Discovering Utopia – Lost Archives of Soviet Design, by Alexandra Sankova and Olga Druzhinina
Designed by Tony Brook and Claudia Klat, Co-Founders of Spin Studio
Published by Unit Editions

“When you are asked to name the best of anything, it is a bad form to name your own work. But although I’m part of the company (Unit Editions) that published this book, I didn’t design the cover, so I’m not embarrassed to name it as my favorite book cover from last year. It was designed by Tony Brook and Claudia Klat, and for me it does two things: first, it captures the spirit of the book (a study of Soviet-era design), and second, it does so while having look perfectly contemporary. This shows that a typographic cover can be just as effective as a cover loaded with images.

Courtesy of Unit Editions

Joanna Prior, Managing Director, Penguin General Books

Central England, by Jonathan Coe
Designed by Richard Bravery
Posted by Penguin

“As a publisher, it’s very difficult to talk about a cover design piece without also talking about how I feel about the book itself. I loved Jonathan Coe’s Middle England – it was one of my favorite novels of 2018. But finding the right cover for a novel that is angry and serious but also funny and compassionate is such a difficult thing. Jonathan’s books have had all kinds of covers over the years, some more successful than others, but everyone at Penguin knew when they read Middle England that this was an important book for the present day and we had to. find a dust jacket that would please. to the greatest number of readers. Richard Bravery of the Penguin General design team came up with this awesome concept, which we think just set the mood for the book.

Courtesy of Penguin

Phil Skinner, Design Director, Supple Studio

Nineteen eighty-four, by George Orwell; The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood; Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Designed by Suzanne Dean, Creative Director at Vintage Books, and illustrated by Noma Bar
Published by Vintage Books, Penguin

“The dark series of dystopian novels illustrated by Noma Bar marked me this year. It is incredible that some of these books were written as early as 1932 but that they are just as relevant today. The books’ timeless and powerful themes demand powerful and contemporary covers, and these live up to both. The dual reading of the images (also known as reversible images) paired with the ominous red and black palette offers intrigue and that sense of unease and dread you get when reading them. Penguin has built its image on quality design – and its success and place as a highly regarded brand is proof of that. “

Courtesy of Vintage Books, Penguin

Richard Baird, freelance graphic designer and founder of LogoArchive

Fredrik Værslev – Fredrik Værslev as I imagine him
Designed by the Zak group
Published by JRP Editions

“To coincide with an art exhibition by Norwegian artist Fredrik Værslev, Zak Group has designed a complementary book. Drawing on the modernist references present in the artwork and on the unusual techniques and non-traditional tools used for painting (including cart wheels and faulty spray paint cans), the Zak group created a blanket which explores the creative agency and the imposition on the rational, the pictorial and the architectural. It emerges, convincingly, in the intersection of bright graphic markings, digitally drawn from some of the artist’s canvases, on a neutral black sans-serif, printed on raw linen. It is visually immediate, defines the content of the book well and alludes to the themes of the exhibition as well as the processes of the artist.

Courtesy of JRP editions and the Zak group

Alex Breuer, Executive Creative Director, The Guardian

How Democracies Die, by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
Designed by Christopher Brand
Posted by Crown, Penguin

“Christopher Brand’s design is deceptively simple. Rightly avoiding any imagery that could project partisan sentiment, he chose a bold typographic treatment that was still rich in cultural sentiment. Bold, condensed capitals resonate with civil rights movement protest posters and placards. The sobriety of the choice of monochrome again echoes moments of political and social reaction which, due to their urgency, did not allow to consider anything more complex or rich in color. It is both a book cover and a premonitory warning of the dangers of our time.

Courtesy of Crown, Penguin and Christopher Brand

What’s your favorite book cover design from the past 12 months? Let us know in the comments below.


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