The publishing Industry in India really came of age in the mid-nineties. Bombay, The Cities Within was one of the first books to be professionally designed, and produced as a glossy but serious coffee table book. Which then went on to set benchmarks in the publishing Industry.
Jointly authored by historian and researcher Sharada Dwivedi and Architect Rahul Mehrotra, this was a comprehensive narrative on the history of Mumbai. The manuscript was accompanied with over 700 images, maps, lithographs and sketches.
The Challenge
The publishers and authors wanted this book to be as accessible as possible. A seminal work such as this, had a place in every Bombay residents home. However the narrative was detail driven and long, and there was a real possibility of the product becoming niche.
Our first design challenge was to device a hierarchy within the pages of the book, which disseminated information on different levels to different reader profiles, without interfering with the integrity of the writing.
A clean but dynamic grid was devised, which lent itself to a varied number of interpretations, giving the book a rhythm, yet maintaining a quiet, classic solidity. Visual spreads with long captions were introduced for the casual browser, interesting facts and anecdotes were written as call outs, and accompanied the main text, allowing for interaction on different levels.
The second challenge was the image editing; the image bank was extensive, and varied in size, quality and style, containing old and new images of the city, maps, water colour paintings, sketches and lithographs.
We decided to use an almost monochromatic tone across the book that would help tie in the inconsistent, and varied visual quality, and worked on a set aspect ratio across the pages, to help provide consistency and balance.
The Book has gone into numerous reprints since its launch in 1995, and still a celebrated must have.
India Today called it "…the most fascinating, sumptuously illustrated book on Bombay yet."