• Transform magazine
  • August 13, 2020

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A new chapter for Dahl designs

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Roald Dahl wrote 17 children’s book between 1943 and 1990, the last of which was published posthumously in 1991. During this period and in the time since, the covers of Roald Dahl’s stories have undergone several designs, from the controversial, to the creative and humorous.

However, all have appealed to the playful, clever and sometimes chilling nature of the stories he wrote.

The covers and images in Dahl’s books are perhaps most synonymous with the designs of his long-term illustrator and friend Quentin Blake, whose simple yet characterful illustrations epitomise the jovial and dark aspects of Roald Dahl’s writing. For their latest redesign, and as part of plans by Penguin Random House Children’s to celebrate the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth, deputy art director at Puffin Fiction, Katy Finch, was tasked with the job of redesigning the iconic covers for 2016.

Roald Dahl is a classic author who spans across many generations. The redesign of his original book covers has therefore been carefully adapted to suit a younger, modern audience while retaining the quirky aspects that led to their unique appeal. While the original character illustrations remain, brightly coloured backgrounds now adorn the front covers, offset with splashes of faded watercolour in which the Roald Dahl name resides.

Each book cover also has its own theme, using two bold colours to ensure the classic books stand out in an increasingly saturated children’s book market.

This is not the only recent redesign of the Dahl book brand, however. Mid-2015 saw creative agency Sunshine tackle the Roald Dahl name, creating a bespoke typeface for the author’s name and book titles. The new font, described by Simon Holmes, head of art at Sunshine, as ‘a slab serif’, marked a change from the previous book designs which included the book titles written in Quentin Blake’s handwriting.  

The newly-designed covers will be available to buy from 11 February, with a hard-back range coming out later in 2016.