An independent archive of typography.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Penguin, 2005)

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Oct 21st, 2020. Artwork published in
circa 2005
On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Penguin, 2005) 1
Source: A2/SW/HK. License: All Rights Reserved.

A2/SW/HK were commissioned to design the book jacket for the first US edition of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, to be published by Penguin Books in 2005. The London-based studio responded to the brief with a purely typographic design featuring custom typefaces. Author name and title are shown in big open Didone caps spiced up with some hyper-extended elements, swashes and other playful details. The monolinear swirls are echoed in the border. The entire line art is realized with red metallic foil blocking on cream paper. For the cover of the paperback edition that followed in 2006, A2/SW/HK relied on the same basic design, this time with white art debossed into carmine paper.

In 2010, the typeface was released through the studio’s font outlet, A2-TYPE, as A2 Zadie. Designer Henrik Kubel describes it as “a decorative headline font inspired by cast ironwork from the Edwardian-era” and mentions that “an early version of the typeface appeared as a display font in Vogue UK’s winter issue in 2005. Penguin Press, New York, subsequently commissioned a cut of the typeface for our cover design of Zadie Smith’s novel On Beauty.” The retail version comes in two styles, Regular (open) and Regular Solid. The fonts are all-caps, with a full set of alternates in the lowercase.

The seriffed typeface used for smaller text is unidentified. Chances are that it’s another custom design by Kubel.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Penguin, 2005) 2
Source: A2-TYPE. License: All Rights Reserved.
On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Penguin, 2005) 3
Source: License: All Rights Reserved.


  • A2 Zadie
  • unidentified typeface




Artwork location

1 Comment on “On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Penguin, 2005)”

Post a comment