Coralie Bickford-Smith love

What does she create?


Coralie designs bindings and cover cloth designs for Penguin Classic books. The books themselves are ‘B’ format hardcovers of classic English literature, poetry collections, children’s fairytales, and classic translated works. These range from Charles dickens stories to modern classics like F Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby to the three translated volumes of Arabian Nights. Her cover designs are all placed in the same pattern across the front allowing space for the author and title at the top and bottom of the cover board. Each design employs a visual motif that is in some way indicative of the story, for example the peacock feather pattern that adorns the Picture of Dorian Gray represents Vanity but also luxury and superficiality, prominent themes of the novel.


Another example of her work is the F. Scott Fitzgerald series that. The covers incorporate the style of the time that the stories were set, art deco shapes in the design and moreover the use of the metallic palette also invokes a sense of the smoky jazz era. As individual stories the designs they work well, and as a collective, the design visually draws together Fitzgerald’s work, illustrating his work as a series of vinettes of the 1920’s.

A short bio:

As a child she would swing from frantically drawing to huddling away reading book after book. When it dawned on her that she could make a living out of it she decided to become a designer. She started off studying typography and graphic communication at Reading University in the United Kingdom. From there she moved on doing a series of different design jobs for supermarkets, then coffee table books, finally arriving at Penguin publishing house as an in-house designer.What a journey!

William Morris
William Morris
William Morris












Bickfords influences, like any artists range from other illustrators like William Morris to the characters in the books themselves.


Why I like them:

I was first drawn to these books when they came out in 2011, they are very different from the binding that are used in most hardcovers, namely because of their size, most hardcover books are available in the trade paperback which is larger than the b format. This clothbound feel also distinguishes the book almost instantly from the run of the mill b-format fiction book that is printed nowadays. As a booklover especially a  lover of classics, I love the way that the victorian bind has been revisited in a contempory style. The front designs are particularly one of my favourite elements of the objects. The depth of symbolism of each cover varies, some things are more obvious than others, but in a sense it invites the reader to judge it, admire it and feel it in a holistic sense. I guess this reveals the crux of my love for books, I love them as portals to new worlds but also as objects to be felt, explored and treasured. I love the weight and the feel, I love the pages on the inside that get marked from tear stains to tea stains, how the spine cracks when open a book for the first time. There is something so exciting about these objects that we call books, I hope they never disappear.

I am a person who loves books.

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