Designing Arno Schmidt's »DIE GELEHRTENREPUBLIK« for typography class
at Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design came with some challenges.
In »DIE GELEHRTENREPUBLIK« (1957), german author Arno Schmidt makes a reporter
traverse the then-contaminated US. His designation is a giant floating island, the
»IRAS«, the »International Republic of Artists and Scientists «.
On his way through the US the reporter meets a multitude of mutated creatures,
including centaurs (and centaur-girls...).
Shortly after his arrival on the »Gelehrtenrepublik«, the reporter starts to see through
the civilities between the Soviet and the US-American side.
The reporter's notes are translated into german, a then long dead language (as well as Germany,
which is right in the center of the completly destroyed and contaminated Europe). The fictive
translator is another character that comments on the reporters style through footnotes.
Despite the book being somewhat anti-Germany, there's an inevitable hunch of the old staid federal
republic of Germany. The upright character of the translator probably contributes a lot to that.
The design of the book's jacket is reminiscent of that feeling of nineteenseventy-ness, the probably idealized feeling
of an era that I can only experience through books such as this one.
The jacket makes use of Antique Olive, a typeface that's been the logo of Germany's big conservative party CDU for decades.
The jacket's fabric is some sort of indestructible synthetic paper which is also used for
ID's and passes. However, the jacket's material and visual conception aims to offer these associations
without becoming a parody of that era (my professors prevented me from slipping off to far into that area).
Although the book's slender format (US legal) is quite unusual for literature, the type, the margins and footnotes
make for a surprisingly classical page layout. The running text employs ITC Charter
while the footnotes that represent the austere fictive translator are set in Atlas Grotesk,
a rather clean and rational typeface.
The project was develloped in winter 2018/19 in the typography class at Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design,
lead by prof. Annette LeFort and prof. André Heers.
I would like to thank the Arno Schmidt Stiftung for kindly providing the book's text.
TLDR: The jacket's design makes use of material and typography that are heavily reminiscent of
1960s-80s Germany while the inside's typography is rather classical.