June 16, 2011

Notes on design: Through Irish eyes


Today, fans of Irish literature are descending on Dublin to relive the events of Ulysses and honor the memory of Ireland’s most famous literary export, James Joyce. But how can the design-minded among us mark the occasion?

The Casual Optimist points to Vintage Irish Book Covers, a blog by the Dublin-based designer Niall McCormack which aims to celebrate the heritage of book design in Ireland. Spanning from the 1920s to the 1980s, the covers make a surprisingly cohesive set, with graphic illustrations and simple, unadorned typography appearing throughout. The blog is notable for the way McCormack shines light on the lives of the designers, including W.B. Yeats’s daughter Anne Yeats, who worked primarily as a painter but also created a number of covers for the Irish publisher Sáirséal agus Dill.

Among McCormack’s other discoveries is Cor Klaasen, a Dutch-born designer who settled in Dublin after a brief stint in Switzerland and brought a continental eye to his work in the advertising, publishing, and music industries. And don’t miss the work of Karl Uhlemann (designer of Faoi Rún Go hÉirinn, shown above), who was equally skilled in a wide array of illustration styles. To these talented designers, we can only say: Sláinte!

Christopher King is the former Art Director of Melville House.