Responses by Anna Bárdy, graphic designer
Background: The book Buildings with cour d’honneur in Budapest (Franciaudvaros bérházak Budapesten) is the outcome of our massive research, where we explored a less-known part of Hungarian capital Budapest’s architectural history on more than 400 pages, accompanied by gorgeous imagery. The topic caught the attention of art historian Melinda Mártonffy several years ago when she started exploring the complete palette and scale of the buildings with French yards from specific aspects, which no one had done before. This book targeted those who like Budapest and its architecture, and also a narrower audience of professionals.
Reasoning: Published by ARTEM/Books, the publication consists of three units, all very different in spirit. The main task was to synchronize the historical sections, consisting of long texts about the evolution of the genre, with entertaining and colorful archival shots and original drawings. Also, photographer Fülöp Schmal took spectacular imagery of the present state of these buildings, which also contrasted with the hundred-pages-long appendix at the end of the book. It was exciting to find a way to make the diverse content digestible, but still have the different units stay visually interesting enough to preoccupy the readers, even if they aren’t interested in this topic. The result is an image-dominated book enriched with archive material, drone photography, maps, and generous line drawings inspired by the original drawings, all set with type by Hungarumlaut Type Foundry, to loosen up the incredible quantity of exciting information.
Challenges: It was crazy when the final draft texts were different lengths than was originally planned. Also, the main narrative structure and the book layout had been already made up by then. I had to redesign almost everything, including the content structure in the middle chapter, and readjust how the texts, additional data, photos and archive stuff followed one another. I even had to adjust the letter sizes to adapt to the new principles. It was tough, but it was worth it because it added so much to the overall impact of the book.
Visual influences: I have been always amazed by beautifully designed art and design books. One of my dreams was to create a publication up to the European standard. I was interested in how progressive design could be connected to such a classical architectural style from the turn of the previous century, and how it could involve a bigger audience beyond the architect society.
Time constraints: Usually it’s exhausting when a project lasts too long. We had one year for this publication and, in this case, time helped us achieve a visually coherent result.
Specific demands: I’d rather highlight the attitude, which I think is important in the creative process. Good company makes everything easier! I got to know exceptional professionals and kind people, with whom we were in perfect accord from the beginning. For me, the most specific thing we had was mutual respect and trust. I had freedom on the design part, which was very liberating. The end result is always better if the client trusts you and gives you enough freedom.