Type Directors Club Shares Winning Designs: Mario Hugos’ Judge’s Choice Pick

This year the Type Directors Club is celebrating its 65th anniversary. The TDC typography competition was established 57 years ago and is still the world’s premier showcase for beautiful typography. Last year this unique design competition attracted over 1,500 entries from 32 countries. Every month, the Type Directors Club will be sending us one of the judge’s picks to share on the HOW blog. So check back often to see the best examples of great typography. Designing with type is one of the most cost-effective design solutions, but it takes a real master to craft amazing typography. Here’s this month’s judges’ pick:

Mario Hugos’ Type Directors Club Judge’s Pick

Sadly, it’s increasingly rare for us to really pick up a book and study a carefully crafted cover. Designers aside, we’d rather pinch, zoom, and get to the point. There is, however, no denying the power of a beautiful object and The German Genius is a monumentally intimidating tome with an absolutely intimate, ceremonial jacket.

The immaculately set black letter typography is a spiraling introduction into the enigmatic and mysterious German psyche. In fact, traversing the cover’s drama doesn’t even offer the promise of a title or author, and we’re instead led through key themes of Germans, Nazis, Freud, and the United States in quick, curious succession.

A disjointed black and red propaganda draws us into a series of conflicting quotes, at once cocky and confessional, but each quote blends into the next to suggest a universal presence of German thinking. Maybe, maybe not—but it’s a cover one might feel intimately attached to; it’s the cover of a book you pick up, love, and form a bond with.

To put it simply, the jacket is beautiful and mysterious, and the object itself is a quintessential reminder of the rift between the immediacy of digital books and the intimacy of physical ones (and that each has its place).

TDC 32 Mario Hugos Judge's Choice

DESIGN: Christopher Sergio, New York; DESIGN OFFICE: Christopher Sergio Design; PUBLISHER: HarperCollins Publishers; PRINCIPAL TYPE: Fette deutsche Schrift and Knockout; DIMENSIONS: 6.25 × 9.25 in.

TDC Design Competition Winner Statement

Peter Watson’s The German Genius is a survey of German thinkers and thought spanning 250 years. Confronted with a long and abstract subtitle—and a manuscript that was nearly a thousand pages long—I was worried that, despite its engaging content, the book might scare off readers.

My solution was to design for the entire “object,” not just the front cover. Keeping the uncommon heft of the book in mind, I moved all of the information that was supposed to be on the cover (title, subtitle, author) onto the sizable spine. I then selected quotes about Germans and Germany from within the manuscript and created a kind of typographic “face” for the front cover. My goal/hope was to spark curiosity in the viewer, while also reflecting the dizzying volume and variety of German thought contained within. The final jacket is two flat colors, printed on an uncoated paper stock.

I am greatly indebted to Archie Ferguson, the art director at Harper, for helping to champion this unorthodox design—and of course to the author, editor, and publisher, for approving it!

Learn more about the Type Directors Club and see more amazing typography in the TDC book Typography32.

For more resources about typography, visit My Design Shop.Type Idea Index by Jim KrauseType Idea Index by Jim Krause

The basic principle behind Type Idea Index is simple: ideas breed ideas. If you are looking for new ways of employing type in your works of art and design (or new twists to apply to your current typographic techniques), open Type Idea Index. You’ll find yourself face-to-face with 650+ custom-created, idea-sparking examples of typography and type-intensive design. For maximum user-friendliness, these samples are organized according to the theme they express (Energy, Elegance, Order, Rebellion) and the sort of real-world application they relate to (initials, monograms, logos, headlines, paragraphs).

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