Urgently and with intent: David Pearson brings Druk to Noam Chomsky series

In his first commission for Pluto Press, David Pearson was asked to create the covers for 13 new editions of works by the renowned linguist and political commentator, Noam Chomsky. Eight covers in, Pearson sheds light on how a single typeface is keeping it all together

The eight titles published in the Chomsky Perspective series so far are very hard to miss: the bold type covers matched only by some equally hefty spine text, ensuring that the volumes stand out however they are displayed on a bookshelf.

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One of the reasons the covers pack such a punch is Pearson’s use of the condensed sans serif face, Druk. Moreover, Pearson has employed all of the available four weights of the typeface across the series covers – the range “makes it ideal for cover-filling exploits such as this,” he says.

Designed by Berton Hasebe for Commercial Type, Druk was originally commissioned by Richard Turley while at Bloomberg Businessweek and was used across many of the magazine’s covers.

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“Design manager Melanie Patrick was keen that the books should communicate urgently and with intent, and display something of the author’s mettle,” says Pearson.

“My brief to myself was to fill the cover using all weights of the family – in a way that didn’t labour too much on fine detailing. The hope here was that the covers would retain a kind of vitality if I didn’t fuss over them too much.”

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Pearson’s design approach was in part influenced by a previous Pluto series – the early editions of the Workers’ Handbook series which came out in 1974, two volumes of which were designed by Richard Hollis (The Hazards of Work: How to Fight Them and Your Employers’ Profits).

“I find it impossible to separate Pluto Press from the work of Richard Hollis and in particular, his Workers’ Handbook series,” says Pearson. “These covers acted as my starting point. I wanted the new covers to feel similarly bold and to-the-point – and to also act a bit like newspaper headlines.”

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Pearson’s tightly packed Chomsky covers have an urgent, even jarring quality – convincingly commanding attention from both the front and the side. “The spines are intended to mark these out as core texts within a bookshop,” says Pearson. “Design which tells you you have no alternative!”

The Chomsky Perspectives series is published by Pluto Press. More details at plutobooks.com and chomskyperspectives. See typeasimage.com for more of David Pearson’s work

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