Seventy Years of Penguin Design

Home Event Seventy Years of Penguin Design

This fascinating exhibition from the Penguin archives examines the history of the Penguin book cover, tracing its design from the iconic triple-banded and colour-coded early covers to the multifarious covers of today.

Celebrating seven decades of book design the exhibition includes beautiful original artwork and early proofs. It explores the development of the famous Penguin logo and showcases some of the most iconic book covers in publishing history.

When Penguin was launched by Allen Lane in 1935 he set out to provide affordable titles to a larger audience than ever before. The cost of a Penguin paperback was kept low, only 6d (2½p), and through the look of the book Lane and his designers established an identity that still holds sway.

The visually strong three panel covers defined the look of Penguin for almost three decades and the exhibition explores its refinement and adaptation over this period as well as the introduction and proliferation of illustration and photography.

The characters that shaped the Penguin look also emerge within the show. Among them are German émigrés Jan Tschichold and Hans Schmoller who defined the early look, as well as innovative designers and illustrators including Alan Aldridge and David Pelham (whose original artwork will be displayed).

Drawing on original material from the Penguin archives and the University of Bristol, the display will show how Penguin has responded to – and influenced – changing trends in British culture. The classic orange fiction paperbacks will be displayed alongside dramatic banks of hundreds of Penguin book covers.