Last night emc design and BookMachine co-hosted the first BookMachine design themed evening ‘Why Design Matters: Collaborating with your design team‘, at The Square Pig & Pen in Holborn.

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Sophie from emc design along with Sam and Laura from BookMachine had been plotting the event for a number of months, as part of emc design’s year long celebration of our 25th anniversary.

We wanted to have an evening that not only celebrated us as a company but more importantly raised the profile of design within the publishing industry. We’ve been to lots of publishing events and conferences over the years, but very few consider the role of design and designers. As a design company who solely works within publishing we recognise on a daily basis the areas in which designers work with publishers. From the conceptual stages right through to delivering the final product to press. This means that we often also see the areas where design could have more of an impact and we often feel that if more collaboration happened at an earlier stage (and throughout the process) then the results could be really amazing!

To help us explore some of the diverse areas designers work in we invited three speakers with different perspectives and experiences of working within publishing design and production.

Ken Jones, from Circular Software kicked off the first talks with a quick exploration of some of the features within Adobe software that can help save time & money. Adobe’s latest releases within CC enable users to quickly share files across the applications, which means you can edit key features within Illustrator and quickly import the edited file into your Photoshop/InDesign document. Ken alluded to the fact that good production designers really do know lots about how to maximise the use of software. And that it’s in all of our interest to ensure that we do use time-saving and consistency features when producing materials.

Second to the stage was David Pearson, who runs his own studio Type as Image and has worked on some of Penguin’s most iconic and striking cover designs. David explained that when he first worked at Penguin, delving into the archives was one of his favourite things to do as it enabled him to look chronologically at the covers and spines. This enabled him to get a real sense of how trends have changed over-time and how important it is to get the design of your cover right to draw the reader in.

David went on to explain about the importance of collective design – something that Penguin are really good at. If you have a series of books, then thinking about them as one body of work enables you to play with lots more design features. And the use of colour and numbering can be clever ways to make books more collectable. As well as using additional printing techniques like embossing/de-bossing instead of needing additional colours.

Designers have the ability to help define space on a cover, and draw the reader in and David gave us countless beautiful examples of covers that do just this!

The final speaker of the evening was Dan Franklin, Digital Publisher at Penguin Random House UK. He kicked off his talk with a statement that has been ringing true for us for some time “Design isn’t just about how things look, it’s about how they work”. Designers are increasingly becoming “architects of experiences”. And where design input has been lacking is within the design and production of ebooks.

In Dan’s current role he has been working with designers and developers really closely and explained that he’s noticed there is a conversation that happens between the author, designer and the end reader. This makes design intrinsically linked and important to the publishing process.

After the talks we then had more opportunity to mingle and carry on the conversations about why design matters. There was a real buzz to the evening as people talked about their favourite designs, the skills designers have and also some of the new things we’d learned just in the evening! There was also the realisation that design is not talked about enough within the publishing circuit and that this had been a great opportunity to start doing just that.

We hope it prompted some new thinking and has given people inspiration to be bolder in their approach to design and to work more closely with their designers. And we really hope that the conversation continues with more design events to come.

To read more about the evening have a look at the twitter feed #whydesign.