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No. 208: Retro Italian Book Covers, Futuristic Conference Branding, the Insta Novels of the Social Media Age + More

Hello, and welcome to Design Diary, a collection of five projects from across the world that have impressed us this week. 

For more along these lines (and so many others) follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesignFacebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.

New York Public Library + Mother, Insta Novels

The New York Public Library has paired up with the branding agency Mother on a social campaign that brings digital books to Instagram Stories. Called “Insta Novels,” the program seeks to make classic literature “more accessible to the masses,” starting with a new edition of Alice in Wonderland illustrated by the designer Magoz. This all seems like pretty standard social campaigning, until you consider that this concept will allow people to be able to read the entire novel or short story on Instagram Stories.

“The full book, short story, or novella is uploaded into Instagram Stories, complete with unique and engaging design elements,” reads the press release. “The Instagram-specific design includes stills and videos that mirror the unique layouts of the original works.” For screen readability, the background color is a “warmer white”, and Georgia is the chosen typeface to “pay homage to the history of the written word in both print and digital (it was one of the first serif fonts ever designed for screen to make long form text more pleasing and legible),” Mother adds.

Readers rest their thumb on the screen to hold the page and lift their thumb to turn it. If you let the book run you see an animation. Using the “Highlights” feature, each novel is saved as a work of digital literature that readers can access at any time. It’s success will rely on people’s willingness to adapt to this new reading experience. But when it comes to meeting your audience where they inevitably are (social), this ideas is pretty, well, novel.


Zeitgeist magazine and digital exhibition

Ah, the zeitgeist, that perpetually shifting concept, ever out of reach. It’s hard enough to grasp or define, let alone illustrate, and yet if anyone were to try it would be a group of magazine makers. Zeitgeist magazine considers itself a platform that “captures and collects the positions of current artists in form of essays and interviews for creating an authentic image of our time.” Its counterpart digital exhibition turns to a long list of impressive designers to capture the zeitgeist in a poster.

“What influences the zeitgeist nowadays? And which cultural and creative output arises from this spirit, we all seem to be driven by subconsciously?” the project asks. What better way to answer than visually? See the entire exhibition here.

Libri Belli books

Italian collector Livia Satriano got in touch recently with her trove of book covers she’s sourced over the years from thrift stores and flea markets. Her project, which goes by the name Libri Belli, varies from esoteric fashion and art books to (mostly Italian) classic novels, featuring covers by famous illustrators and designers like Edward Gorey, John Alcorn, and Bruno Munari. She puts them up on her Instagram and sells them on her charming online shop. And she was also kind enough to send some over for us to ogle at.


Nick Liefhebber, Deep Deep Down

Designer Nick Liefhebber recently finished his residency at Kapitaal, a print studio in Utrecht, The Netherlands and sent us some work from the solo show that capped it off. Called Deep Deep Down, the show features the screenprints, both graphics-based and photography-based, that he created while at Kapitaal. The designer says he’s “always been inspired by the visual languages of the past,” particularly in the symbols of ancient cultures. With the layered prints in the show, Liefhebber created his own language, “mixing existing symbolism with his own imagery.”

Classmate, Future Now conference

As design conferences continue to proliferate, their identities get showier and showier. One that’s caught our eye this week is for Future Now Design Conference in Budapest, designed by Classmate, a brand design studio from Hungary and Finland. The future is now. 

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