While the 2020s might not be off to a roaring start, perhaps we can take solace in looking back to the 1920s instead, which is exactly what Vintage Books’ latest series does. The Vintage Deco series consists of nine novels that bring to life the 1920s, 100 years on. Picking up on the opulence and optimism of the era, it’s a celebration of some brilliant classics including Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, among many more.
“The brief was to capture the collective imagination with its jazz, party-spirit, female liberation, wealth and flamboyance through the elegance and glamour of the Art Deco period,” explains Suzanne Dean, creative director at Vintage Books.
The team landed on a decorative style of bold geometric shapes and bright colours, and used three different foils, in gold, silver and bronze. “We took existing vintage patterns and modified them in a way they would knit together with each photograph,” Dean says. “Certain patterns lend themselves to their titles. For instance, the horn-like spikes in the pattern on Fiesta by Hemingway, and splashes that fall around the swimmer on Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. Also the pattern on The Painted Veil was redrawn from original deco wallpaper spotted in Bar Zedel, in central London.”
The imagery used was sourced from Bridgeman Images and Topfoto, which had a wealth of photographs to draw upon. “We believed that combining pattern and photography would give us a distinctive look for the series,” Dean explains. “Photography gives us the advantage of suggesting the character from the novel rather than relying on pattern alone.”
Neat and unassuming, the font used on the covers is Mostra Nuova. “Created in 2009, it is based on a style of lettering seen on Italian Art Deco posters and advertising from the 1930s,” says Dean. “The author and title is kept small in the design to focus the eye on the pattern and photograph.”
Each designer had a title to develop themselves, but the beauty of the series is in how cohesive and aligned they are. “The Vintage design team love these group projects and we work well as a team,” says Dean. “I’m proud of how well [the books] cohere as a whole – I couldn’t choose a favourite.”
Vintage Books’ Vintage Deco series will be fully released in the UK on February 1; @vintagebooksdesign