No Klimowski, no buy

klimowski_faber
Pode parecer radical, mas este título corresponde à minha reacção ao post do Caustic Cover Critic sobre um dos livros que mais esperei este ano, o volume que Joseph Connolly dedicou aos 80 anos de design de capas da Faber & Faber. Connolly, um autor da velha guarda da Faber, conhecido também por um volume sobre coleccionismo de 1.as edições, poderá ter pretendido precisamente apenas recordar e trazer de novo ao papel as capas do período anterior a 1980, e a própria capa deste volume não deixa muitas dúvidas quanto a isso: um pastiche do trabalho de Berthold Wolpe que imperou nas capas da F&F até aos anos de 1970, recorrendo até à fonte emblemática da marca, a Albertus, desenhada também por Wolpe.

80ffcover

Acontece que, se houve um momento em que a Faber deixou uma marca na história do design editorial e de capas, esse momento chegou precisamente depois de 1980. Nas mãos de John McConnell (um dos partners da Pentagram), as capas da Faber dominaram os escaparates nos quase 20 anos seguintes. Lembro-me de ver as estantes da Livraria Britânica do Porto no início dos anos 90 e do magnetismo de todas as capas da F&F então: quem começava, por esses anos, a olhar para as capas dos livros de uma forma mais atenta não podia duvidar de que a Faber era (e é ainda) o modelo a seguir. E o melhor exemplo desta excelência eram as capas ilustradas por Andrzej Klimowski. Posso mesmo dizer que, para além de um artigo ilustrado sobre Roman Cieslewicz numa Eye, as capas de Klimowski para a Faber que podia ver nessa livraria foram um dos motores de motivação que encontrei para me meter nisto. As suas capas para os livros de Milan Kundera constituem um incrível portfolio, pleno de inventividade e, ao mesmo tempo, consistência formal (haverá mesmo outra forma de ler Kundera, sobretudo para quem nunca o fez como eu, do que fazê-lo com estes livros?). No geral, o design das várias colecções da Faber, bem como a sua identidade corporativa, é um dos mais perfeitos exemplos de renascimento gráfico de uma editora, e não ganhou um grão de pó nestes 25 anos.

Assim, (e depois de ver as fotos do livro e ler a análise feita pelo CCC) a um volume sobre as capas de Faber que não inclua uma análise em profundidade e bem ilustrada do trabalho de McConnell e Klimowski para a marca, só posso mesmo dizer não, obrigado.

P.S.: Aconselho a leitura do texto do próprio McConnell sobre o seu trabalho na Faber publicado no volume The Compendium da Pentagram há bem mais de 10 anos, e que é ainda dos melhores textos sobre o design de colecções e o branding de uma editora.

It may seem a bit radical, but this post’s title was my exact reaction to the Caustic Cover Critic‘s post on Joseph Connolly‘s book on Faber & Faber’s 80 years of book cover design, one of the books I was most anxiously waiting for. Connolly, an author of the “old guard” at Faber, known also for his tome on 1st edition books collecting, may have intended precisely to remember and bring back on paper the covers of the pre-1980 years, and the very cover of this volume leaves room for very few doubts on that intention: an almost transparent pastiche of Berthold Wolpe’s work for countless Faber covers up until the 1970s, even using the very same font Wolpe designed for them, Albertus.

But if there was a moment in time when Faber left a lasting mark in editorial design’s history, and cover design in particular, that moment came after 1980. In John McConnell’s hands (he was one of Pentagram’s partners), Faber’s covers reigned supreme on bookshelves for the next almost 20 years. I remember finding them at the British Bookstore in Porto, in the early 90s, and their intense magnetic power: those who began looking at book covers in a more attentive way during those years had no doubts that Faber was (still is) the thing to follow. And the best example of that excellence were Andrzej Klimowski‘s illustrated covers. Besides an illustrated article on Roman Cieslewicz in Eye magazine, I can honestly say that those Klimowski covers I could catch a glimpse of were a crucial motivation in those years. His covers for Milan Kundera’s novels amount to an incredible portfolio, brimming with inventive power and formal consistency (is there really another or better way to read Kundera than from these Faber books?). The whole design of Faber’s collections and series, as well as its corporate identity, is one of the most perfect examples of the graphic rebirth of a publishing house and still stands as one of the landmarks in editorial design’s history, not a single speck of dust added to it in these more than 25 years.

Therefore (after reading CCC’s text on the book and seeing the photos of it), to a volume on Faber’s covers that does not include a thorough and well illustrated analysis of McConnell’s and Klimowski’s work for them, I can only say no, thank you.

P.S.: I strongly recommend reading John McConnell’s own account of his work for Faber, published in Pentagram’s The Compendium more than 10 years ago, still one of the best texts on book series design and the branding of a publishing house.

2 Comments

Filed under Capas, Livros

2 responses to “No Klimowski, no buy

  1. A fine and well-argued defence of Klimowski! I’m going to have to get a copy of Pentagram’s ‘Compendium’, and it seems to be affordable second-hand! Hurray!

  2. It’s a small text (10 pages, profusely illustrated), considering the bulk of the whole book, so it’s worth only if you can find “Compendium” at a very low price (it’s a shame that Pentagram never issued a book on book design alone). It’s mentioned that McConnell’s text was first published in RSA Journal (since it was from a presentation he gave at the Royal Society of Arts) around 1991, so if you can find that issue it can be cheaper than buying “Compendium”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s