Based on the development of a  self-organising, programmatic and rhizomatic design, Atelier Carvalho Bernau created this series of deceptively simple, geometric designs for Amsterdam-based publishing house Octavo.

Briefed with the wish for a collection of cheaply published books that are functional, durable and beautiful objects, the designers approached this project with an awe-inspiring and thought-provoking methodology of research of both the physicality of books and of  how their data could be used to make readable connections between the individual titles visible.

The results are a design system in which each book is unique but relates to the others, so that what sits on the shelf is a visual continuum.

Every book has its unique cover through a unique position on the map in relation with other publications, its colour scheme and placement of typography. No parameter is random, all data can be read: it is possible to understand that books with the same colour(s) bear some relation with each other; that the point to which the triangular areas point indicate yet another level of relation between the titles.

Having had the opportunity to attend a conference in which they explained the entire process of their design research and systematic, I can say it was a very exciting and inspiring observation!


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  1. Dickie Smaber

    That’s a lot of (difficult) words to explain the graphic design of a series of books. Especially on a site which concentrates on minimalism…

  2. @Dickie: the process was very complex, yes. But the results seem very light and simple, geometric and using few elements, which is why it was featured in this site. Simplicity, a major characteristic of minimalism, isn’t necessarily easy to achieve.



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