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In primo piano /


BCBF21 Workshop con Jean Mallard

Per progettare l’identità visiva della Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2021, abbiamo ospitato nel nostro studio l’illustratore parigino Jean Mallard, classe ‘97. Muniti di mascherine e sanificatori, abbiamo trascorso tre giorni fertili di spunti e idee.

Rodari Prima e dopo 100

Before and after 100

Edizioni EL

Having designed the logo for the centenary of Gianni Rodari’s birth for Edizioni EL, we went on to create layouts for grammars, fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

100, first challenge.

The centenary logo. We began by ensuring we had a clear idea of the project’s imaginative scope and stipulations. To tell the truth, this was nothing new, because design is what we do, so we felt perfectly at home. The brief was that the logo should not be corporate, formal or celebratory, but clear, simple and maybe with a visual joke or two.

Rodari’s immense imagination opens potentially inexhaustible scenarios that risked taking us on an endless journey.

We focused on word play, alliteration and double meanings, highlighted by the choice of colour and lettering. With this first release the publishing house drew attention to its Rodari centenary re-issues.

300, second challenge.

Gianni Rodari one hundred + one hundred stories and rhymes + one hundred illustrators. The challenge was to create the design for a volume featuring 100 illustrations, 100 illustrators and a collection of 100 stories, rhymes and poems. Not a catalogue, not a binder, not a picture book, not a book of poems, not an essay, not an anthology… but all the publishing paradigms put together.

A cage with rubber bars and a typeface that would bridge the gap between stories and illustrations.

This is how we began the graphic design for an edition featuring 100 different illustrations interpreting 100 Gianni Rodari stories and rhymes. The design didn’t cage the illustrations, it welcomed them onto the page, and left them free to adapt their characteristics to it.

28, third challenge.

28 because that was the average number of pages in the picture book stories. These four stories by Gianni Rodari had been interpreted by four different illustrators (Beatrice Alemagna, Manuel Fior, Gaia Stella and Olimpia Zagnoli). Generally, picture books are editions that go their own way and refuse to follow a series template as there is such a close relationship between text and image. But, here, we wanted to keep the leitmotif of the centenary alive.

The publisher wanted to continue to convey Gianni’s spirit in these four artists’ picture books.

The lettering used, in fact, is the centenary typeface (Haptik), but on the cover, the title font is invaded by the colours, style and themes of the illustrations. This allowed us to maintain the unique mood of the title and style created for the series.

4, fourth challenge.

4, not because we have reached the fourth challenge, but because Einaudi Ragazzi commissioned 4 special editions and asked us to create something special and out of the ordinary. An opportunity that occurs about once every hundred years. So, we did what we should never have done…

… cover titles split in two, no images whatsoever and bright and glossy colours, almost like chocolate boxes.

You can see them in shop windows, they shine and dazzle, and so far, no one has asked a bookseller if “Due volte il baro” has arrived. No one has boasted about reading “Matica della fan”! And no library has catalogued “Ocche in cielo” or been asked for “Al telefon”. Perhaps we got something wrong and imagination no longer lives here.

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  • Publishing
  • Art Direction
Ambinoi becomes an inventor

Ambinoi: we are the environment

Ambinoi is the fruit of a publishing workshop, designed and created for Mantova Ambiente, which became a magazine.

How. Forty-eight 17x24-cm pages, to help children aged eight to thirteen to reflect on environmental topics. Art, science, comic strips, games, reports, interviews… the ingredients are all there, and were produced by Marco Bassi, Luca Capuano, Carlo Favero, Luisa Mattia, Lorenzo Monaco, Giuseppe Palumbo, Matteo Pompili, Bruno Tognolini.

What. Publishing project, graphic design, editing and page layout.
Client. Gruppo TEA, Mantova (IT).
Year. 2015.

The digital version of Ambinoi can be seen on BiblioTEA.

Cover of Ambinoi Ambinoi stories Ambinoi ocean

Design for all: Macramè


Graphic design for a series of high-legibility narrative school books.

For publisher Loescher we conceived the graphic design of a series of narrative school books for ages 12 to 16, with the following challenge in mind: “Children in school read very little, and reading long texts can be a problem. Furthermore, not all children read in the same way, and it is important to ensure maximum accessibility for both stronger and weaker readers”. To meet these demands, we used a design for all approach.

Defining diversity as our core value, we ensured that the visual appearance of the books would provide the best possible accessibility for everyone.

The project covered all aspects of the books. From the covers – conceived in collaboration with Cecilia Fabbri and the illustrations of Alessandro Sanna, Marco Paci, Cinzia Ghigliano, Caterina Giuliani – to the organization of the pages. We also decided to use a special font for the series, created in collaboration with Luciano Perondi, type designer and lecturer at ISIA (Higher Institute for Artistic Industries) in Urbino, Italy.

Kind: the made-to-measure font

The font created is Kind, issued under Open Font License (OFL), with a design based on Victor Gaultney's Gentium, with amendments added to emphasize the differences between similar glyphs (for example the letter group p, b, d and q), and to make it easier for readers to stay on the right line.

Kind is available in a series of stylistic sets, making it possible to customize the reading experience: by progressively activating the different sets, the number of alternative glyphs increases, along with the entity of the differentiations.

In this way, each publication can be calibrated according to the type of reader targeted.


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  • Publishing
  • Typography
  • DSA

Plan B

With a pamphlet and a book we explained the Strategic Metropolitan Plan for Bologna, a big workshop used to imagine how the city will develop over the coming years. 

This wide ranging project involves both the public and private sectors, with the aim of defining the direction of development for the metropolitan area of Bologna.

How. In the 128-page book, with the help of illustrations by Angelo Monne, we explored the ideas and data that emerged from three forums, four roundtable design discussions, 26 work groups, and 67 comprehensive projects.
Year. 2014.
Partnerships. Angelo Monne.

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See also

Nests of Notes

Nidi di note [Nests of Notes] is an illustrated book, a course in musical education to browse, read and listen to, which was presented at the 2012 Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

How. We worked with Sonia Peana and Paolo Fresu, who composed and performed the music, while Bruno Tognolini wrote and then read the stories and nursery rhymes, and Alessandro Sanna did the illustrations. We were in charge of the book design, and we put everything together for the guys over at Gallucci editore. It was a challenge, because the project (which will continue with an app) does not adhere to the classic canon of children’s books. It is a project that tells fairy tales, shows illustrations, plays music and recites nursery rhymes. Putting all this into a single object was a tall order.
What. Artistic direction, graphic design and page layout.
Client. Carlo Gallucci editore, Rome (IT).
Year. 2012.
Partnerships. Sonia Peana, Paolo Fresu, Giannino Stoppani Cooperativa Culturale.

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