Death in Venice - Thomas Mann
The project is for a new publication of the modernist literary masterpiece Death in Venice by Thomas Mann, first published in 1912. While most of the previous editions of the book used variations of literal representations of Venice, this concept aims to avoid such familiar tropes and attempts to distil the essence visually of the story's psychological and physical themes of haunting, repressed emotions and obsessions and the disintegration of the book's protagonist, Gustave von Aschenbach.
The design seeks to capture Mann's ideas of rejuvenation disrupted as life's desires and realities collide in a claustrophobic and cataclysmic personal breakdown in Venice at the turn of the twentieth century.
The 'X' motif signifies Gustave as a marked man whose doomed obsession with an unobtainable muse triggers personal disintegration in Venice at the intersection of reality and imagination. The colours evoke Venice's moods, light and heat, and the watery blues signify the Lido in The Venetian Lagoon. The work communicates the book's central themes of memory and the problematic quest to recapture lost youth, joy and freedom.
The title typography is set in ITC Benguiat, a later reimagining of the Art Nouveau period styles that would have been popular when the book was set. The serifs and terminals' distinctive forms and sharp characteristics lend the title an otherworldly and doomed aesthetic.