The Covers of Petra Börner

When I first saw these four book covers by Swedish graphic designer Petra Börner, I was completely blown away. They are visually arresting, almost mesmerizing even, in the way they grab and hold my attention. Her bright, bold, vivid style is in someways reminiscent of the youthful design in Paul Rand’s children’s books that I recently wrote about. But there is also an unmistakably mature aesthetic sense to them, and they feel like they could do quite nicely framed and hung up as art in a chic city apartment.

I keep telling myself that it is absolutely ridiculous to buy books in a language I don’t even speak, but they are so gorgeous that I’m genuinely tempted!

The Serious Game
Cover for Hjlmar Söderberg’s “The Serious Game”
Cover for Jane Austen’s “Emma”
The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Cover for John Fowle’s “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”
The Lover
Cover for Marguerite Duras’ “The Lover”

The publisher, Bonnier Pocket, wrote in a release that “We believe that graphics and design have become an even more important way to get consumers to choose our paperbacks.” I couldn’t agree more, and as I have mentioned before, I think this is the result of a shift in the public perception of physical books as objets d’art. I predict we’ll see more and more gorgeous designs being released as consumers look to physical books to be delightful experiences.

After finding these covers I looked online to see if I could find more of Petra’s work. I found some illustrations she made for Wrap Magazine, and a short interview they did with her which is charming, but my favorite part of the article was seeing her pictures from her illustration process:

Petra Borner Process 1

Petra Borner Process 2

Petra Borner Process 3

It’s amazing what she can do with cut paper! Although apparently that’s not her only illustration technique. And I am jealous of her ability to work with color; she has such vivid, energetic color palettes. (If you want to see more steps in the process, there are more photographs in the article).

I also enjoyed Petra’s answer to this question about her creative process. She seems very humble and down to earth, and I can completely relate to her response:

Can you describe your style of illustration and creative process?

I don’t know. Sometimes I think my work is perfect, and somethings it’s really sketchy. It depends on my mood what I like and what I hate about it. I can’t sleep when things are half finished , though it’s GOOD to let things take time. I’m also lousy at leaving blank space in my work. Sometimes I use layers of cut paper (as with my artwork for Wrap), and this process can be laborious and definitely old fashioned. I feel like a dinosaur doing it!

As I continued to peruse Petra’s work on the internet, I just became more and more impressed. I discovered that book covers aren’t her only medium—she’s also created illustrations for clothing, housewares, cards, and pretty much anything else you can incorporate illustration into:

petra-borner-aquascutum-1-w632h632 petra-borner-22-w632h632

And then, to top it all off, I discovered that she’s recently worked with White’s Books, the small publishing house run by David Pearson that I wrote about recently (For the Love of Books). I really admire their philosophy on book design and their focus on creating high quality books, so I guess it only makes sense that they’d partner with a designer who has made such stunning, high quality cover designs!

Cover for “Jane Eyre” from White's Books, designed by Petra Borner
Cover of “Jane Eyre” for White’s Books

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