Project Description

V&A Penguin Study Days

Penguin by Designers
This was a ‘study day’ at the V&A, organised by the Penguin Collectors Society in Penguins seventieth year. It brought together a range of voices and experiences from the 1950 onwards, most living designers were able to be present, and six spoke about their experiences at pivotal moments, Romek was one of those.

Romek’s involvement with Penguin went back to Simeon Potter’s Language in the modern world for their imprint Pelican in 1960 and he began by describing the lack of any fixed ‘look’ at that time. His friendship with art director Germano Facetti led to his most famous work for them: the crime series. Romek outlined his analysis of the problem from his presentation at the time, and took the audience through the practical issues involved in the design of particular titles. Romek also described how the crime grid was adopted for Penguin Fiction and the design of other titles for Simenon and Angus Wilson. An adaption of the crime grid featured as the cover of the book recording the event which was designed by David Pearson.

Penguin by Illustrators, at the V&A
This ‘study day’, also organised by the Penguin Collectors Society, was a more targeted affair than the previous Penguin by Designers, but the breadth of Romek’s work meant that he fitted easily into both of these camps.

Unlike the analysis about strategy, about the over-arching needs of publisher’s identity and the need for a specific design for the title itself, and the separate roles of series and book designer, here he concentrated on the specifics of various individual titles. It was a different perspective than before, a close, more in-detail view with his personal explanations about the specifics of how and why.

The book of the event was designed by one of my students who was particularly disorganised during the portrait shoot. Romek was his usual unflappable and patient self throughout.

Phil Baines
Designer and author

Penguin by Design
A Cover Story 1935-2005 by Phil Baines. Launched to coincide with the V&A Study Day. Published by Allen Lane 2005

Penguin by Designers
A record of the Penguin Collectors Society Study Day at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Saturday 18 June 2005. Edited by Steve Hare and Phil Baines. Published by Penguin Collectors Society 2007.

Penguin by Illustrators
A record of the Penguin Collectors Society second Study Day at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Saturday 24 March 2007. Edited by Steve Hare. Published by Penguin Collectors Society 2009.