Top 5 Book Designs from David Taylor RGD

David Taylor RGD, AWAKE STUDIO, shares his favourite book designs.


Limiting a selection of favourite book designs to 5 is a handcuff I hadn’t expected to find quite this frustrating. What an exercise in restraint considering how much inspiring design is out in the world. I am someone who has often bought a book, based purely on what was on the cover (sometimes with a positive end result, other times not) and recognize the power design can have on each and every publication.


For me, the success of a book design (be it a stop-you-in-your-tracks cover or a complete cover-to-cover design marvel) is the power to immediately transport you into the author’s world and move you to invest your time uncovering the content that lays in waiting.

Sagmeister: Made You Look
Stefan Sagmeister

Just as film, art, music, and literature have the power to move people, Stefan Sagmeister's innovative work shows that graphic design, too, can cut to the emotional quick.” This blurb about the book essentially explains why it’s my number 1 pick. When I first laid eyes on this book in the now defunct David Mirvish Books the red plastic cover made a statement, which once removed augmented that statement to a roar. The power of Sagmeister’s design is so immediate and so immersive from front to back cover. It’s a design confession delivered at the loudest frequency.

Dry: A Memoir
Augustan Burroughs

This is an example of a purchase made purely on the cover. And this cover, designed by Chip Kidd, is an exercise in design storytelling at its best. Without giving away anything of the content of the book (which would be wrong – and if you haven’t read this already, please do yourself a favour) the seemingly simple cover conveys such complexity and perfectly captures the tone of Burroughs’ memoir.

Invisible Monsters
Chuck Palahniuk

This is another example of a purchase based solely on the cover. Rodrigo Corral’s deceptively simple design speaks volumes with its complex illustration that perfectly hints at the wild ride of a novel that it contains. The first time I accidentally caught sight of the book cover upside down, I was completely floored. It is genius.

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
Chris Ware

This book is a designer’s dream – it is storytelling at its finest. Especially if you loved comics as a kid this graphic novel will keep you hooked as you reveal page after page of beautiful drawings, inspiring palettes and heart-breaking stories.

The Cremaster Cycle
Matthew Barney

I coveted this book for years before I ended up receiving it as a gift one birthday. I visited it regularly on the shelves of bookstores and indulged in the Pentagram-designed rubbery-plastic dust cover under which lay silver foil illustrations. Inside, the 5 Cremaster cycles are delineated through sumptuous die-cut pages and spread after spread of powerful imagery that you can get lost in. At the time the book came out Barney’s Cremaster movies felt sadly out-of-reach but this book, with its cinematic layouts, presented a genuine look into the films. After finally having seen the movies many years later this book made even more sense to me and became even more powerful as a reminder of the artistry of Barney’s vision. It will always be one of my favourite books. 



Published May 2018