Cover values

Do you prefer a rough and ready look, or are you more of a high-end, uber-luxury type when it comes to selecting your cover stock? Never fear, there’s no need to choose, as the very latest is to combine the two trends, argues Emily Pacey

Let’s face it, you always judge a book by its cover, and every print designer aims for you to do so with some accuracy. While a title speaks of a publication’s contents, the cover material offers clues to a book, magazine or company brochure’s more nebulous qualities, such as brand values.

Raw, rough and humble, cardboard and exercise book stock are popular materials for the covers of brand brochures and other publications at the moment, reflecting the handmade Punk and folk spirit of the times. But there is an opposite trend occurring simultaneously, in which super-premium materials are being used to express deep luxury.

Thomas Manss & Company recently designed a new high-end photography magazine, C Photo, whose first issue, Genesis, features the early works of artists Helmut Newton, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Marina Abramovich. Mere paper was not regarded as luxurious enough for this publication, whose cover is made from a printable cloth called Setalux, stretched over an 800gsm board.

Setalux is made by Manifattura del Seveso and resembles silk, but can be offset printed. ’It is the first cloth you can print photographs on with this level of amazing quality,’ says Enrica Corzani of Thomas Manss & Company.

’The client Ivory Press wanted something that had never been done before and was really outstanding, so using a cloth that is more usually used for books makes the magazine far more luxurious. Holding an object like this is very different to holding a normal magazine,’ says Corzani.

People don’t want to look like they are paying a lot of money for paper. These sorts of stocks send out those messages, even if they are not that cheap

At the other end of the scale is raw, fibrous and flecked Greyboard. This material was used by Reform Creative for Derby University’s faculty of Art, Design and Technology research publication, published at the end of last year. ’The thinking was that because it was research, we wanted to create something that felt as though it had been collected and collated over some time,’ says Reform creative director Paul Heaton.

The contents of the publication were printed on three different types of paper and the Greyboard cover was added to further enhance the idea that it was a research folder. Continuing the theme, the book uses an elastic band to close it.

’Initially, the client wanted a glossy coffee-table book, but we wanted to give this object the feeling that it was something really unusual and precious,’ says Heaton.

The words ’precious’ and ’Greyboard’ – which is usually used as the invisible base for other, more illustrious materials in the creation of hardbacks – do not usually go together. But in this project, Greyboard was considered the ideal material to enhance the values behind the art and design school’s research. ’It is more unusual than a normal silk-covered brochure and is also more creative-looking.’

Studio Small used the flimsy card thatcovers exercise books for denim brand Natural Selection’s jeans look-book, whichwill be strung from the back pockets of its upcoming collection. Jeans are usually considered a casual product, but the Natural Selection label can claim real utility brand values, since it also makes workwear. Studio Small reflected this by creating a brochure inspired by factory workers’ clocking on cards, made from Filemaster paper.

’This stock has a very retro feel too, and seems to reflect society at the moment as there is a general move towards more honest materials,’ says Studio Small’s partner David Hitner. ’People don’t want to look like they are paying a lot of money for paper, so these sorts of stocks send out those messages, even if, in fact, they are not that cheap.’

The humble look does come with a range of price tags, from the relatively cheap to the staggeringly expensive.

A good example of an understated paper with a high price tag can be seen on Thomas Manss & Company’s brochure for paper company Fedrigoni Group. The publication features handmade paper Murillo Nocciola, produced by Italian paper manufacturer Fabriano, which was founded in the 13th century and made paper for Renaissance artists Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. More recently, it created the paper that the euro is printed on.

’The paper is a really subtle and understated tobacco-brown colour, in which you can see the fibre. It is one of the most expensive and yet simple papers, and is really quite special. Definitely for the connoisseur,’ says Corzani.

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