Responses by Jesper Winther, creative director, MerchantCantos
Background: Frontier Economics is an economic consultancy that applies big thinking and analytical data science to solve some of the biggest problems facing society, governments and businesses. To help mark its 20th anniversary, we created Economics with Imagination, a book that would bring together imagination and sound calculations, going beyond the numbers to celebrate not only its history but the evolution of economics.
Reasoning: Curiosity plays a key role in successful research, and to reveal new insights, you need to look at things differently. We designed a book with an “imagination lens” and worked with unexpected orientations of text to make the reader look beyond the obvious.
Challenges: Coming up with a simple idea that would spark imagination and make the book stand out. We also wanted to give the book an interactive feel, and as part of our discovery, we explored multiple new print techniques and stock to make flicking through the pages a real experience. In the end, we decided to go with a die-cut template that would give us the bold first impression on the cover, but that could also be repurposed throughout the book to preserve costs.
Favorite details: The holes in the cover make you want to take a closer look, and visually, they have a graphic nature and a raw aesthetic that gives the book a contemporary feel. The chapter dividers use the same template with the titles peeking through the holes, but where some words are shorter than on the cover, the empty spaces tempt the curiosity of the reader reminding them of the theme of the book. It’s a small, beautiful detail that I love.
Visual influences: Since the book debates some of the biggest historic events in politics and society, we used a more journalistic style to highlight the importance and influence of the work Frontier Economic does. Visually, we wanted to convey a sense of significance and make the articles expressive and confident. Influenced by traditional newspaper layouts, we increased the contrast by using typography to create unique lockups and oversized pull quotes that emphasize the insights and match the big thinking in the articles. The bold typography creates impact and contrast and conveys a sense of urgency that suits the theme of the book while also complementing the brand.
Specific demands: One challenge was striking the right balance between the serious economic research that Frontier Economics delivers, and its focus on creativity and design—but the tension between these two aspects is what gives the book its uniqueness. Ultimately, it connects the seriousness of Frontier Economics’s work with its open-minded and entrepreneurial culture, and it’s a great example of how design can help push perceptions, create dialogue and make you stand out.