I recently discovered this lovely series of Kafka book covers, by the new art director at Knopf Pantheon in NY, Peter Mendelsund. I don’t think they are actually printed & out in the world just yet (hard to tell from his notes), but I expect they will be soon.
Though there’s an unmistakable Paul Rand IBM (Eye Bee M) logo riff going on here, but Mendelsund takes this stylist building block, and quite simply builds and builds and builds with it. He creates symbolic meaning in the simplest, and purest of ways – introducing vertical lines over an eye – a prison cell; multiple sets of eyes around the eye – the jury or society peering and judging; a white triangle below the eye – looking down from the “castle”… so simple, so smart. Dare I say, Paul Rand would have certainly approved?
The handwritten typography is a font based on Kafka’s handwriting created by Julia Sysmäläine, design director at Eric Spiekermann’s design office in Berlin.
There’s a good “review” of the covers, and some historical context here.
The 1950′s seems to be “re-inspiring” designers at the moment (including myself), not to mention inspiring television (Mad Men). I recently created this set of “Ready Made” designs for moo.com, for their florist category. Definitely with constructed with a mid-century minimalism, I call them “Florist Modern”. You can actually buy these business cards (among many others) and customize the details/text side to make them your own, at moo.com