Monday, May 10, 2010



In 1934 Allen Lane a publisher decided to found a publishing house which could produce good quality paperbacks sold at a sixpence each, which was back then the same price as a pack of cigarettes.
In 1935 PENGUIN was founded with the concept of trying to produce inexpensive paperback editions of high quality books, they adopted an equally progressive approach to typography and cover design.

The precise application of colour, grid and typography in those early paperbacks instilled Penguin with a commitment to design from the start. The company's designs strengthened under the direction of the German typographer Jan Tschichold during the 1940s and Italian Art director Germano Facetti in the 1960s. It was not until the late 40s that the company adopted a desciplined and coherent approach to design under Tschichold. By the time Tschichold had arrived at the company in 1946 he was already an established eminent writer on typography, he was also more assertive at imposing his design philosophy than he predecessors.

The designs of individual books before Tschidchold arrived in the company, had appeared very cohesive, at least compared to those of rival publishers, but where varied with the views of the editor and printer. Tschidcholds firm beliefs in his typography system he designed a template for all Penguin books with designated positions for the title and author's name with a line between the two. The Unified design of the front, spine, back and redrew Edward Young's(sketch artist) endearingly amateurish Penguin symbol in eight variations. Tschidchold had produced a set of composition rules in which he insisted were to be followed by Penguin's typographers and printers to ensure that the same style was always applied.

Tschichold returned to Switzerland in 1949 after 3 highly productive years, in which he had defined an intellectually and inspiring visual language for Penguin. Typographer Hans Schmoller was Tschicholds successor who had a rich knowledge of type and an eye for detail with a less radical approach and tended to refine Tschichold's templates rather then creating new ones. In the 1960s Penguins pioneer in book design had lost its edge, the company appointed the Italian art director Germano Facetti.

The redesign of Penguin Crime was one of his most inspiring projects, in 1962 Facetti commissioned a Polish designer Romek Marber to modernise the covers, green was retained as the defining colour of the Penguin Crime, but Marber choose a brighter shade of green and the horizontal title band stayed at the top as did the hierarchy of information. Marber then added images of hinting at the drama and tensions of the plot. The redesign was very successful and Facetti adopted the variations to other Penguin series. Facetti had succeeded in modernising the designs.

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  1. Information and images well selected and edited. great post

  2. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. Graphic Design