Responses by Jan Šabach, design/creative direction, Code Switch
Background: My father, Petr Šabach, was a Czech writer. His novels have been translated to numerous languages and several of his novels have been turned into popular movies. In 2016, Šabach received a Karel Čapek award for his contribution to Czech literature, which was awarded by the Czech Center of the International PEN Club. After my father passed away two years ago, the publisher, Paseka Publishing House, decided to republish his novels with new cover designs. The new edition kicks off with a selection of his stories, chosen by editors Emil Hakl and Václav Kahuda.
Reasoning: My dad was a storyteller. He was a master at integrating small, but carefully crafted moments, into a larger story. I was inspired by this seeming simplicity and I created a visual language of typographic construction, where each element depends on another and its surroundings. While each book uses only a limited amount of colors, the resulting series is colorful, optimistic and dynamic.
Challenges: This was a very bittersweet project. I love working on my father’s novels—I designed the covers for the previous edition as well—but I’m sorry that I can’t share these with him. I wanted the new covers to stand out and attract new readers.
Favorite details: I spent a long time sketching and trying to figure out ways to combine the letterforms together and create an interesting play between the figure and the ground. The color choices and combinations took me a while as well, but I’m happy with how the individual books and the whole series came together.
Visual influences: Josef Albers, Norman Ives, Ellsworth Kelly, Alvin Lustig, Paula Scher and cubism.
Anything new: I learned that simple takes a long time.