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.
Designer and author