Brave New World

Brave New World

Milan Zrnic, New York, New York, 2010


Project brief: Brave New World is one of literature’s undisputed dystopian classics. For the deluxe edition, HarperCollins approached me to design a graphic cover that would take the recognizable cover iteration into newer, more sophisticated territory. As with most classic titles attempting to rejuvenate sales, the cover was to attract a broader audience that would pick up the book on a table and immediately understand the tone of the story.

Approach: My design philosophy relies on making the effortless appear considered. I knew I wanted to emphasize the institutional elements of the story, so I maintained the blue palette associated with the known cover and stripped most elements bare, using the “soma” pills as my leading graphic element. There was something interesting about the pill, particularly in the idea of dispersal. After lengthy discussions with HarperCollins’ creative director, and after dozens of intricate renderings (images of babies rendered in small pills), HarperCollins chose the very last cover option—the one I made in five minutes and threw in at the very end of the presentation. I suppose my gut forced me into a much-needed graphic exercise after all of the nuanced material I was working on. The only stipulation I applied to this last option was that it felt like it needed to be dimensional and that, if printed, the dots would be embossed. HarperCollins responded to this finish in a positive way and the production team worked with the creative director to make it happen.

Effectiveness: HarperCollins’ president relayed to the creative director that this was one of his favorite covers of the season, which instantly made me realize the power of one’s instinct. I had spent countless hours mulling over the graphic interpretation of a novel when the most effective solution was right in front of my nose throughout the entire process. Or perhaps I had to explore every outcome before arriving at the obvious solution? Whatever it is, I’m just grateful for the opportunity and feel that book sales and client enthusiasm are excellent bonuses to the experience.

Juror Notes

This one surprised and delighted the whole jury. I’m not sure what it means, but I want to find out. The copy and type treatment on the back are striking in their directness and strength.

Collections: 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2010
Repository: Denver Art Museum
Discipline: Book design
Format: Book, Book cover


Design firm
Milan Zrnic
Creative director
Milan Bozic
Art director
Milan Zrnic
HarperCollins Publishers