Since its release in 1973, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon has gone on to become one of the most highly acclaimed and best-selling albums of all time. To date, the band’s eighth studio album has sold over 45 million copies worldwide.
It’s also regarded as one of the most recognisable album covers of all time, thanks to its iconic prism design created by the band’s long-time collaborators Hipgnosis, in a departure from the surreal photographic images they were mainly associated with.
To mark its 50th anniversary, Hipgnosis’ Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell approached Pentagram to design a limited-edition box set, which includes a CD and gatefold vinyl of the new 2023 remastered studio album.
The collector’s edition also includes a new Blu-ray disc of Atmos mix, a CD and LP of The Dark Side Of The Moon – Live At Wembley Empire Pool from 1974, a music book, replica 7” singles, memorabilia, and a hardback photo book designed by Pentagram partner Harry Pearce and published by Thames & Hudson.
The 160-page, album-sized tome combines striking layouts with rare and unseen images. It includes documentary photographs by Powell, his Hipgnosis co-founder Storm Thorgerson, and Jill Furmanovsky, taken during Pink Floyd’s album tours in the 70s, as well as shots of original album roughs and artwork by Hipgnosis and StormStudios.
Pearce is well-versed with Pink Floyd’s design aesthetic, having previously worked with Hipgnosis on the band’s record label identity and Early Years box set. It meant that the designer was a natural fit for the Dark Side Of The Moon project, says Powell. “I needed a very special package. The familiar triangular prism image had run its course over five decades and it was now time to reinvent.”
The original design still remained the key starting point for the new design. “Picking up on the Hipgnosis theme of ancient Egypt and Pyramids, I thought about the wonderful sense of discovery that’s built into the idea of a nested sarcophagus. The layers and layers reveal memorabilia, and at the centre the original Dark Side Of The Moon vinyl,” says Pearce.
Pentagram partner Jon Marshall worked on the 3D design for the project, creating the boxes which house each of its elements. To create a sense of discovery, different materials were used for each layer of the nested boxes, starting completely black with elements of gold being added, and leading to the fully gold box in the middle, which houses the original album and new live album.
“Nesting several boxes together was technically challenging as multiple elements were interconnected and needed to fit together precisely,” says Marshall. “We did not want to use foam or plastic inserts and solved the design through cardboard engineering with extensive prototyping and sampling, working very closely with Po, the record company and with the box set manufacturer.”
There are subtle references to the pyramids throughout the box set, such as the angled cuts on the folder for the poster, but one of the standout elements is the inner gold box containing the first ‘live’ vinyl of the Dark Side Of The Moon. “The process over a series of months from a maquette to completed drawings and animatics was revelationary and highly professional, with Jon manipulating Harry’s creative ideas into the completed, highly polished box set. It’s a work of art,” says Powell.