Design Analysis

This is the single most effective piece of design I’ve ever encountered.

Men in Space cover.jpg

Ok, that’s probably not exactly true, but the effect of this design was shockingly direct in a way that I can’t say for any other piece of design. It actually got me to buy a book based on nothing other than its cover. So, let’s take a look at how this happened.

First off, we can look at this in a simpler context. What does it look like when it’s not slanted?

Men in Space cover1.jpg

Ok, that’s a little easier to analyze. It’s got a pretty straight forward design that really closely sticks to the fundamentals of design of clarity, consistency and simplicity. The image really only has one object of note inside of it – a man falling from a presumably high place. This photo could have been staged in a busy street with complex buildings. Instead, we see clean gray walls and an empty street. Even the guy’s clothes are in a clean grayscale.

Men in Space cover2.jpg

It uses a very simple system of three horizontal sections with margins on the sides and on the top and bottom.

Men in Space covercenter.jpg

The falling man is placed slightly below center.

Men in Space cover3.jpg

The color scheme is a range from pale beige to black, again helping to keep the whole image simple.

Men in Space cover6.jpg

Typeface is entirely written in Helvetica Neue, which also keeps the whole thing looking clean.

Men in Space cover5.jpg

And, lastly, we have the final touch where the design changes from being just simple and clean to something truly clever. The entire system is rotated by about -10 degrees. Now the street forms a clean horizontal line across the cover, and the text is crooked so that it perfectly lines up with the falling man, but not the lines of the book. In effect, we have two separate reference frames clashing with each other. Thus, with one simple move, we now have a design that is both visually intriguing and apt for the themes of the book, which revolve around differing perspectives happening in the same place.