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Books as Objects

A model of good design

In celebration of SCP’s collaboration with Penguin, we take a look at some of their classic paperback designs. Thinking about books as objects.

At an early stage in this project, we were slightly surprised when the people at Penguin let us in on a secret, that although things had changed, for a long time in publishing circles the idea of a “book as object” had been thought a bit of an unsavoury idea. The implication being that the important stuff was between the covers, not on them.

At SCP, we come at everything from a design perspective, so the idea of a book as object is entirely natural to us. That book may or may not contain a work of literary genius, but it will always occupy a space in a very particular way, and it is of great importance how it does that.

 

We asked Jasper Morrison to write a few words about the Penguin Huddle, and unsurprisingly, his sentiment is similar:

“My dad had a large number of the penguin paperbacks in a bookshelf at our home and though I wasn’t able to read them at the time, the repeating orange and white striped covers might easily be my earliest memory of a designed product. They had an aura which infused the room with a particular atmosphere which appealed to me. The colours and the design have moved with the times but they still represent a model of how good book design can be, so I’m delighted to have designed the latest in a line of objects for keeping them together at home.”

So, in celebration of that aura which infused the room, we dusted down our bookshelves to find some of our favourite Penguin paperback cover designs. We had no trouble finding both literary genius and great design at work.

Including works from George Orwell, Graham Greene, Laurie Lee, Raymond Chandler, Laurens Van Der Post, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jorge Luis Borges and Yukio Mishima.

Find out more about The Penguin Huddle here.