Our new library of over 200 uncatalogued books was useless.
With day to day deadlines and priorities, nobody had the energy to get some casual color inspo by laboring through the mammoth collection. That problem definitely needed to be solved, but we thought we could go a little above and be cool about it? From the beginning, Kelly was scoping more than just a website.
We tried using each book's unique ISBN and the OpenLibrary API to populate the cover image for our database, but very few of our books had ISBNs, and the ones that did were so rare that no scan of the cover existed.
And what's a design library without visuals! Kelly scouted some props a-la the 1950s Betty Crocker cookbook in our new collection, and she and Matt got to the task of shooting the 200+ covers with two interior shots each.
“I spent 2 days shooting the cover and inside pages of each book. Matt helped. I don’t regret any of it”
With a database of books, type will be your most predominant design element. As Kelly's branding work started to settle on Aktiv Grotesk and other vanilla sans serifs, I put together a few sample sketches for Medium Rare Sans: a small type family that took some foundational vanilla ideas and added just a lil choco syrup.
“Custom type is the crown jewel of any project: to be able to dictate the visual form of language. Medium Rare Sans is exactly what this project needed to level it up to something special and memorable.”
What started as a complementary headline font ended up a small typographic village. The goal of Medium Rare Sans was simple enough: feel rare, feel like a local used book store lost gem. Unusual proportions, overbites (see a), underbites (see g), flat bottomed t's and y's, and diamond dots all contribute to that feel. But the site was getting loaded with content, and diamond dots weren't gonna solve our hierarchy problem. The system needed something that could get small. Teaming up with Messer for body text, Medium Rare Caption became the bedrock of ignorable copy.
While Medium Rare Caption was the 12px workhorse, it still needed that thrift store find vibe. That exciting feeling of something found, lost, fumbled, fumbled again, recovered! Touchdown!
It also needed to...
feel like a cookbook.
Medium Rare Caption included some good ol’ unicode icons for common data attached to each title. Behind the scenes, our yml database file was tracking 9 data points, but most were less than interesting to display.
We held a launch party to intro the two-hundred employees at the San Francisco Intercom office to the library. The night was a success with many books perused, hors d'oeuvre eaten, and nearly 20 books checked out.
Dream team! LTR: Grumpy, Doc, Happy, Bashful
The party included free book totes and bookmarks for guests, and the whole library of books to checkout!
“Kelly, Kyle, and Matt are the best designers to ever work for me!”