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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Conversations with Woody Allen

Design by Chip Kidd

Well, this should be a good way to start off the week. I'm expecting a number of you to give a hearty "meh" to this, a series of interviews with Allen conducted over four decades. But I have to tell you: it stands out on the new books table as much for what it's not than for what it is, much like the the Miranda July book did.


And I have at least two half-assed theories about this: 1) it's best to stay away from photography when the scope of such a book is so large -- from which decade do you select a photo?, and 2) regardless of his recent near return-to-form, Woody Allen is still a pretty polarizing figure. This design clearly signals what it is: a series of interviews, and not a biography.

Buy Conversations with Woody Allen: His Films, the Movies, and Moviemaking

15 comments:

Seth Christenfeld said...

It also neatly echoes the text-only design that Allen usually uses for his opening credits.

Joseph said...

That's what I needed. Thanks :-)

Nick said...

I think the addition of elipses would have made it stronger from a typographic and conceptual standpoint.

Dystopos said...

Here's my "meh".

The quote marks are used improperly. If you're going to use quote marks to indicate something other than what they indicate, then put them somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

I think it would have been stronger if the designer had used Windsor and reversed the type out. This would have more closely followed the style of his movie credits, but maybe that's too obvious a solution.

Michael said...

I don't think the quote marks are entirely inappropriate (as dystopos does), but it really bugs me that the byline is in quotes.

Dystopos said...

Here's my suggestion.

Sergio said...

Gotta disagree with dystopos.

Yes, the usage of quotes is grammatically incorrect. But as any writer will tell you, breaking grammar conventions is fine as long as the effect you achieve is the one you desired. The same holds true in design.

Making the entire title/subtitle a single quote would effectively kill the concept: that these are a collection of separate conversations. Just visually fragmenting the title/subtitle on the page doesn't go far enough into breaking it apart---our minds naturally reassemble them into fluid sentences. This is why the quotes are necessary. They're meant to cause a stutter. To frustrate the sentences with stoppages and closures. It's actually the quotes, not the spacing between word groupings, that is the concept. The word spacing just helps to support.

Good call on the byline though. There's no need for the concept to extend into it, and it kinda dilutes the overall concept to include the author line in quotes.

Ian Shimkoviak said...

I love it. It's fine. It's perfect for his work and for who he is. Woody Allen is all about the dialog and the one liners and this communicates that while making a nice use of white space and truly using the type to illustrate that.

Otherwise, though, this is nothing special in the realm of striking book design. It's pure and to the point. It's Kidd.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much emphasis we place on the individual who designed the cover over the cover itself. Do we look objectively at the communication of the cover, or do we assume it is good because it is done by someone who consistently produces good works.

I will agree with Ian and his comment, however, to stick with the Woody Allen "feel" (and to push the concept further), wouldn't we want to have white type placed on a black background (as mentioned and ignored above)?

sara said...

In addition to echoing Allen's famous opening/closing credits, this design nods to the design of his older published books like WITHOUT FEATHERS and GETTING EVEN. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is what Kidd was trying to evoke.

Mog said...

It's funny that you mention Miranda July's book, because I picked it up because of the cover.

A friend of mine teases that I bought it just because of the cover. This is only partially true; I picked it up because of the cover, read the first two stories, and immediately bought the book. But I admit that it was the cover that put the book in my hands in the first place.

So, there you have it. My very own "design works" story. This design works just as well; if I saw it on a table full of new books, I would definitely pick it up - all because of the cover.

davutyücel said...

it's very very good..

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Simon Marc said...

It's good to see that in your country (usa I guess), cover designer are subjects of polemics and debat. not the same way in france except Chip Kidd (and he's not french, of course). Discovered recently for the last Nabokov in the litteracy review of Le monde this last week.

I want to say that your work is a great source of inspiration. sorry for my poor english but I read someone who's speaks chinese so I've tried to do more comprehensible than french langage. And if you accept my opinio, these quotes are marks of respect.like you can do for Bergman. Just to explain that allen is not a funny guy. or not just a funny guy.