Black double page spread in Trent Parke's book Monument

Stanley/Barker: Trent Parke’s Monument book design

This unusual photobook uses distinctive design techniques to display three bodies of work by Magnum photographer Trent Parke, all themed around space

Stanley/Barker is an independent publishing house specialising in monographs by both emerging and renowned photographers. Known for its attention to detail, the publisher creates books where every element – typefaces, materials, print techniques, sequencing – becomes an extension of the work contained inside.

The publishing house had spent years approaching Trent Parke, a member of the esteemed Magnum Photos agency, to work on a book. The photographer finally agreed and together they produced Monument – heralded as a landmark publication, and the publisher’s biggest project to date.

The brief was to create a cohesive publication bringing together three major bodies of work shot by Parke over more than a decade. These were some of the photographer’s most important projects, so the book would need to do them justice.

Double page spread of Trent Parke's book showing a blurred spectral photo of a crowd

Throughout the editorial process, an apocalyptic narrative emerged, which became the theme and overall idea for the creative direction. Every element of the book is inspired by the history of humankind and its connection to space.

The book itself is a large, commanding, 260-page monolithic tome bound in flexible leather, with black spray-painted edges. The cover is embossed with symbols drawn from the Voyager space probe, launched by NASA in 1977 as part of the Voyager programme to study the outer solar system.

The editorial sequence of the images evokes a world that is gradually disintegrating. As readers move through the book, the photographs become less solid and the page weights become lighter.

Photo of a grainy white silhouette of a body against a black backdrop laid out over two pages

There is no visible text printed anywhere in the book. The introduction is embossed into the end sheets in morse code and the colophon in braille. The only reference to the book’s author, Trent Parke, comes in the form of a detachable steel plaque.

It is inspired by the stainless steel lunar plaques created for the Apollo space missions, which were detached from the ladders used in the descent stage and left on the moon to commemorate the events. Once the plaque is removed from Monument, it is an independent entity, designed be experienced on its own terms.

Black cover of Trent Parke's book Monument featuring engraved silhouettes and an illustration of the earth

The first edition of Monument sold out within seven hours, making it Stanley/Barker’s fastest-selling book, and the second edition sold out before its release date. The response from book collectors, photography enthusiasts, galleries and other customers within the creative industries was overwhelmingly positive.

By having a strong grasp of the work and a clear creative direction, the publisher was able to use design and print techniques in a way that enhanced Parke’s photographs, turning Monument into an emotional experience that transcends the usual realms of a photography book.

Jessica Tan, digital creative director at Design Bridge and Partners and a judge for the Annual Awards, explains why the project was picked as a winner:

Category: Editorial
Publisher: Stanley/Barker
Creative Director: Gregory Barker
Photographer: Trent Parke
Managing Director: Rachel Barker
Design: Ramel Luzoi