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Monday, December 08, 2008

Being Digital

Design by Chip Kidd

So this one takes me back. I was lucky enough to live in London in '94 and '95, and I picked this up in a bookshop in Camden Town. I had no idea who Chip Kidd was, and only a marginal interest in graphic design at that point. But even I knew, back in '95, that this was a pretty sexy way to package ideas.

The clear acetate book jacket has pretty much gone the way of other '90s experiments in tranparency such as Crystal Pepsi, but here it's more than just a gimmick. It is technology itself, or strictly speaking, a technology that Negroponte predicts and that we're still waiting for: "Imagine an electronic newspaper delivered to your home as bits. Assume it is sent to a magical, paper-thin, flexible, waterproof, wireless, lightweight, bright display...Done well, this is likely to be a magnificent news medium. Done badly, it will be hell." (p. 152-3). Heck, I just want it to be done in my lifetime.

The front:

The back:

Front and back:

And the whole package, with its sharp and shiny edges, reminds me of a piece of hardware:


victoria thorne said...

good stuff


Jon Polk said...

I wonder if these clear covers were discontinued b/c fingerprints and dust are so visible and thus make the dust jackets look dirty in the store even when they are new.

Great design though.

Jonathan McNicol said...

As you may or may not know, we've just started, in earnest, this week adding the entirety of Chip's design portfolio to his site. We're up over 100 jacket designs, on the way to, literally, thousands.

Anyway, I just happened to add Chip's very first stab at an acetate jacket this morning, and I think it makes an interesting counterpoint to this one. It's for Charles Solomon's The History of Animation (1990), and the clear cover is used in a similarly purposeful and non-gimmicky way, but to a very different effect.

Lee Jay Keeper said...

a winnner on the designers desk - as it suffers wear and tear a loser on the shelf and the gloss is lost on screen (irony?)