25 years (or so) ago Peter Saville and Brett Wickens finished putting together a record sleeve that would go on to become a design classic. Obviously, quite a contributory part of the sleeves success was that of the audio delights of which it housed. Peter Gabriel’s ‘So’ turned out to be an extremely successful body of work, which, although including a particular song forever linked to that video, was and is, an album of so much more than just the ‘hits’.
Fast-forward to 2012 and I was asked to come up with ideas for repackaging ‘So’ for its 25th anniversary, no pressure then, considering the sleeves already near-legendary status. It was clear from the off that what Peter and Brett had done previously had to be held in high regard, (not to mention ‘if it aint broke etc’), and that the original graphics along with Trevor Key’s portrait of PG was always going to be front and centre. Even the marketing bods agreed with that one. Beyond the original sleeve art, I had a colour palette to work with which I would continue through to the individual 12″ record sleeves and finer details like the tail-bands of the book; PG has long been an exponent of using images instead of words (even many of the hand written lyrics I saw had thumbnail sketches in the margins) and we talked about creating icons for each of the songs rather than a regular tracklist, which I set about drawing, then revising till approved – some were easier than others, some fairly obvious distillations of the lyrics/title and some – ‘Dont Give Up’ (which appears on the red sleeve) for example, were influenced by the video of the time.
For handling production, theres no one better in my opinion than Daniel Mason, we’ve worked together before and I’m totally confident that give him any design, idea or sketch he’ll get it made just how you want it. I was in safe hands production-wise, now I just had to design it. I didn’t want to do anything that clashed with the original concept, but instead support and fit around it, so I opted for minimal graphics and different materials to broaden the aesthetic.
A white wibilin-covered hinged box with the original logo/type foil-blocked (matt black and blue) on the front and the individual track icons pearl foil-blocked down the spine (visible on the most part only when reflecting light), on opening the box you are presented with a 60-page hardback book featuring many unpublished photographs from the time and more-recent writings about the recording, promoting and touring ‘So’. The book neatly holds 6 discs (4CD and 2DVD) safely tucked into pockets on the inside covers, I opted for a brighter tone/colour on the inside of these pockets, the intention being to reflect some of the ‘lighter, pop-ier’ moments of the album. Also in the box are two heavyweight LPs, the album and a 12″ of three other tracks. The sleeves are red/blue coloured board with contrasting/complimentary inner bags, the track icon designs are subtly de-bossed on the front, (they’re almost invisible, but they are there).
This project really felt like I was handling the family silver, for what it means to PG, the fans, and of course, its design history, for me thats where the real pressure was. I’m pleased with how it has turned out and I hope this ‘refurb’ goes some way to successfully and respectfully deliver the really important bits (just like in 1986).