Faber launches Modern Classics imprint

Faber has unveiled the look of its new Modern Classics range, which is set to launch early next year. The new design uses plenty of white space with a subtle band of colour, plus a line from each of the texts

Faber has unveiled the look of its new Modern Classics range, which is set to launch early next year. The new design uses plenty of white space with a subtle band of colour, plus a line from each of the texts…

Ten titles will launch the series in April 2015 (full details below), with a further six publishing in June. The series design has been led by Faber‘s art director, Donna Payne, who headed up the publisher’s rebranding in 2013 (details here).

Continuing on from that work, Payne has brought in several of the colours chosen as part of the Faber palette for use on the new covers. “A translucent slab of intense colour taken from the Faber palette cuts across the central area of each cover to create a striking visual link when the books are spine out or displayed together on a table,” she says.

The colour palette is derived from research carried out at the Faber archive in Bloomsbury, Payne told CR last year: “Many of our archive covers, particularly those designed in the fifties and sixties using bright acid shades, have aged down beautifully.”

The first set of covers in the new Modern Classics series favour photography instead of illustration – the two others in the launch series, both awaiting approval, feature great photographic images – and are complemented with a clean, unfussy layouy and type design. All the text is set in Faber’s company face, Swiss.

Hannah Griffiths, Faber’s associate fiction publisher, who led the development of the series, says that the criteria for inclusion was that the tiles were originally published by Faber, and at least twenty-five years old. “This was to give us a real sense that these are books that can justify the term ‘modern classic’,” she adds.

While the clever use of colour picks up on both the archive material and references the chosen image (see Nightwood above, for example), what’s also encouraging to see is that the additional cover text comes from the book itself. There’s no attempt to define or summarise the book in a pithy phrase, just a faith in the reputation of the work – and its new cover – to do the job.

According to the publishers, some of the editions will contain readers’ notes, facsimile material from the Faber archive, and newly commissioned material to help contextualise the work. Faber writers have been involved in the selection process, being asked to nominate their classic of choice.

The first ten titles in the series are:

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes with introductions from Jeannette Winterson and T S Eliot

Ariel by Sylvia Plath (chosen by Edna O’Brien)

Pincher Martin by William Golding with an afterword by Phillipa Gregory

The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi with an introduction by Zadie Smith

Self-Help by Lorrie Moore

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (selected by Barbara Kingsolver)

Venice by Jan Morris

Selected Poems by T S Eliot featuring an essay by Seamus Heaney

Look Back in Anger by John Osborne with an introduction from Michael Billington and an afterword by David Hare

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

An accompanying website, fabermodernclassics.com, will launch later this year

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