In 2011, the Norwegian Bible Society launched two new translations of the bible. Two translations, directly from the original scripture and into modern Norwegian language, with the explicit aim of conveying the imagery and poetry of the bible to contemporary readers.
Having spent 12 years perfecting the translation, the Norwegian Bible Society trusted 2K/DENMARK with designing the trend line. They wanted six designs, three midsize and three small volumes, set in two dialects. 2K/DESIGN set out to create books you’d want to experience with more that your eyes. As objects you’d want to hold.
Art Director Andreas Krautwald:
“The Norwegian Bible Society knew what they wanted, and gave us a clear brief from the beginning. This translation had already been published in a number of traditional designs, and now they wanted something completely different, a sparkling new look, in 6 different flavours. Off course, when working with Norwegians, you always have to double up because they print in both nynorsk and bokmål. There is something to be said about designing and typesetting twelve books in one go. It keeps you on your toes.”
The book as an object
“The Trend line is a series in its own right. Within the series, there are two lines designed for different audiences; the medium sized books and the small books. All of the materials – and the processing of the materials are thought into the design; and all six designs have binding styles that set them apart from traditional books.”
The medium-sized books have soft, flexible PU-covers with embossed patterns, inspired by Norwegian nature and culture. “This PU binding changes colour when it is embossed. That adds a whole range of possibilities to the graphic expression, as blind embossment changes both texture and colour of the material.”
The first volume Andreas picks up is a dark blue with a graphic interpretation of the northern lights over a fjord, set in three different embossments. “We used blind embossment, glossy and matte silver foil, to depict the dark water and its reflection of the northern lights above. Where embossment is usually used for titles and smaller motifs, we’ve used it to create a pattern that texturizes the entire cover.”
The second is purple with a common Norwegian waffle pattern. “It is blind embossed with a beautiful, flowery waffle pattern: Deep, crisp, dark, delicious. Then purple foil is embossed on the purple material, not silver or any other contrasting colour, but purple on purple. It is quite possibly the most successful of the designs, so subtle and exquisite, really.”
The third medium size volume is bright orange with a sunflower seed pattern. “This design literally shows you what to do. This semicircle emerging from the spine invites you to hold the book like this, it wants to be held. The soft, flexible, binding and the dimples of the pattern makes for a really pleasant, almost nonslip feel to the grip. The dimples on the back of the cover makes it stand out in any bookshelf. If you came into someone’s home and spotted this on their shelf, you’d go and pick it up straight away. Off course, we want that to happen in the book stores, too.”
The text itself is set in Karmina, by José Scaglione & Veronika Burian, released in 2007.
“Karmina is a typeface family, a serif and a sanserif face with the same basic letter shape. We used the serif for the medium sized volumes and sanserif for the small. Overall, Karmina is very robust, the glyphs are clean, solid and very clear. The typeface has strong hairlines and solid details, comparatively large serifs adding up to an approachable but serious look and feel. Karmina is very economic, has large x-height and is generally optimised for small type sizes, which makes it well suited for bibles where size makes all the difference in the world.”
All of the three medium size books have head- and tail bands and reading ribbons that correspond with the colours of their bindings: Dark blue and silver, purple and silver, red and gold. The endpapers of each volume echoes the graphic theme from its cover, in a subtle grey on watermarked paper.
The small volumes are all closed, and perfect for the handbag: One denim, zipped; one pink, buckled, and one green with an oak-leaf pattern and magnetic lock. Set in Karmina Sans, they appeal to a slightly younger audience than their medium sized siblings.
“The whole idea of making zip lock bindings is a Norwegian peculiarity. With the denim book, I went all in to make sure that it got the denim look and feel just right. I wanted a real brass zipper on a bright orange background, orange stiches and all. The idea of the book as an object is fully achieved here. It somehow reminds me of a vacuum packed bag of coffee, hard, solid and brick-like. This book won’t spoil from rattling around in a handbag. And yet, when I open it, the inside is all soft and inviting. A pleasant read.”
“The pink PU cover with the buckle was pretty much specified in the brief. Pink. Buckle. There you have it.” For this book we chose a pink PU with a pearly shine to it, and a matte silver foil to match the rectangular buckle. Head- and tailband plus the reading ribbon are white, making for a delicate, feminine look.
“For this last one, the only brief was to make it green. So I brainstormed “green” for a while, and thought it obvious to think along the line of natural motifs. I like oak trees, so I did oak leaves in blind embossment on the cover”. The head- and tail bands are green and gold, matching the cover to the golden reading ribbon, and the logo set in gold foil.
The evangelical cross
On the shelf, all of the trend covers display only the iconic symbol that 2K designed to denote this particular translation, the evangelical cross. In a competitive marketplace it is crucial that consumers are able to find and recognize the exact bible translation they are looking for. The four gospels in the new testament tells us the story of the life on earth of Jesus Christ four times over; the Evangelical Cross shows four smaller crosses combined into one. The Evangelical Cross is used both as a part of the creative cover designs, as well as on display boxes and other packaging, and in the marketing efforts.
After the first year the Norwegian 2011 Bible translation has been on the market, sales of the Norwegian Bible Society’s Bibles has more than tripled, exceding every expectation.
It is the hope of 2K/DENMARK that The Evangelical Cross henceforth will be associated with the successful Norwegian 2011 Bible translation – as a mark of excellence.
Why are these designs important?
“Well, we are one of the few and privileged companies who take the time to do all things properly. And we have the most demanding customers who expect and appreciate the highest quality in both typography, page making and design. When they have spent ten or fifteen years creating the content, of course they expect no less of us than the very best presentation of their work. It is both humbling and inspiring.”