Things that Make You Go…Wow

I love art, and I love design. But sadly, I don’t come across a lot of innovative or thoughtful design in the publications I see in my academic work. (I’d like to think that my textbook’s cover design – centered around a wonderful painting by Group of Seven member A.Y. Jackson – is an exception to that norm.)

So when I went to the Association for Studies in Higher Education academic conference this month, at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, I wasn’t expecting to find good art or good design. But I was very pleasantly surprised by the great public art in the Cosmopolitan’s conference areas.

And at the conference’s book fair, I was delighted to pick up – for free! – one of the most visually stunning academic publications I’ve ever seen: the Johns Hopkins University Press 2013 scholarly journals subscription catalogue. Fittingly, this catalogue has just won a major award recognizing the excellence of its design.

The catalogue’s visual theme is origami, as a way of celebrating print and paper. Here are some pictures of the catalogue.

The front cover:

The origami bird images on the cover are embossed.

Two of the interior pages:

Each section’s pages have borders with graphic elements – a different one for each section –  based on Japanese paper designs. The pages with section headings also use design elements based on Japanese paper. And the pages are printed on a creamy textured paper that really makes the colours and patterns pop.

The back cover:

The origami bird images on the back cover are embossed as well.

Academic publishers don’t have to expend this sort of effort and care on their catalogues – and most don’t. So kudos to the Johns Hopkins University Press for recognizing the dynamic potential of print and paper, for being so creative, and for producing such a beautiful piece of work.

(And if you want to find out about JHUP’s other publications and activities, or hear some of their insights into the publishing business, check out their very informative blog.)


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