Behind the design: Catharsia

Published on 15 March 2021 at 16:12

The brief

More than a year ago I designed the book Catharsia by Sjef Drummen. Job Description: Go ahead! Delicious! Because time was tight, a book of over 200 pages in 6 weeks from scratch, I immediately started designing on the computer. From this I submitted a number of design proposals to the customer.


One of the design proposals I submitted was to turn the entire book into a flipbook. If you leafed through the book smoothly (like a flipbook), you saw a swallow* flying through the book in the background. Ultimately, this proposal fell through, as it would hinder the ability to freely design each page. I did let the idea of ​​a flipbook come back in 1 chapter. The chapter Back to the future (pages 104 to 131) lets a swallow tumble through the book page by page. See the effect below.

Why a swallow?

The book explains, among other things, the creation of Agora, an innovative form of education in which the student's question forms the guideline for his or her education. A completely different approach from traditional education, where the input always comes from the teacher. This new free form of education that Agora offers is symbolized in a swallow that has the ability to tumble through the air without fear and with a lot of guts.

The cover

The cover shows a face with the brain bobbing in a sink (the brain in the sink was the only requirement of the customer). It symbolizes the breaking of the traditional train of thought regarding education. The face has 1 eye open and 1 eye closed. I wanted to show that fully embracing the new education that Agora offers is not yet possible for every educational institution. Some still have their eyes closed. Catharsia aims to open your eyes and get your brain through the car wash. In the beginning the book shows eyes that are still closed. Gradually, the eyes open more and more. The chapter Agora in practice shows a lot of open eyes, because Agora can only exist if one sees that education can also be done differently. Butterflies also appear in this chapter, referring to the story about the wise caterpillar (teacher) and the smart butterfly (pupil).

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