Penguin Great Ideas series 4 designed by David Pearson (and a few others).
I’m not sure why I’ve been seeing lots of these covers on tumblr today (been a few years since their release), but it’s always a pleasure to see any of the cover designs from the 100 ‘Great Ideas’ books published by Penguin between 2004 and 2010. Unlike most graphic design projects I find it gets better every time you see it.
It got me thinking that the Great Ideas series is probably my all time favorite design project, and here is why;
- Each book is unique, meaning that the style is due to contextual appropriateness rather than trends or personal preference.
- Despite being part of a series there is no pointless consistency between the information on the covers. Some have more than would normally be expected, others way less, but in each case it is for the right effect, which allows for clever ideas where possible (see the ‘An Apology For Idlers’ cover).
- The small size, cheap paper and limited colour make them more striking yet cheaper to produce, proving that appealing design doesn’t always need any fancy tricks.
- Many of them are a celebration of the sort of pre digital typography I love, but that is generally quite unappreciated by most.
- They make very intelligent and intelectual books, that often have lacklustre covers, into objects of beauty and desire.
I could go on, but I’ll end with the point that I think makes me like them most; that all the designs are very clearly born from a deep appreciation and love of design history. Making a design contemporary or trendy is easy, but making it classic is much harder, and I think it’s what the Great Ideas series does so well.