So iconic is the Penguin Books brand that its designs have found their way on to a selection of homewares. We've picked some of our favourites
It is 81 years this year since Allen Lane had his Eureka moment: to produce affordable paperback books and sell them at railway stations and newsagents. He began with 10 books in 1935 and within 12 months had sold three million copies. And so the Penguin Book was born.
In 1939 the intriguingly named Penguin Donkey followed – no, not some monstrous hybrid but a neat shelving unit designed, by a company called Isokon, to house your personal collection of Penguins. Anyone who knows anything about design loves this little chap – and he is still available today. Try Skandium, where you can pick him up for £670.
For 10 years from 2012 Penguin Books’ branding began to appear on a small selection of household objects. For what if, went the theory, books could be the cultural source for objects and designs which we also find useful in our daily lives? The subsequent designs explored the best way to combine brand, style and practical utility: espresso cups and saucers, mugs, tea towels, pencils, deckchairs, wall art canvasses and the Penguin Bookchase board game.
Although these designs are not available in their original format (though it is always worth checking Ebay or other auction sites for anyone selling them on), keep your eyes peeled and it is still possible to bring a little bit of Penguin magic into your home alongside that treasured collection of gorgeously orange-spined paperbacks.
Osborne & Little’s Penguin Library wallpaper features ‘a collage of front covers of iconic paperbacks from the famous publishing house, reproduced by kind permission of Penguin’. The wallpaper is available from John Lewis and costs £73 for a 10 metre roll.
If you fancy super-sizing your love of all things Penguin, then wall art might be the way to go. The Conran Shop was the original seller of this wonderful Raymond Chandler canvas, but it is still possible to buy similar wall art. King & McGaw sells a version of The Big Sleep cover printed on to 230gsm fine-grain smooth art paper. The largest, 100 x 65cm size costs £69.95 unframed.
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But if this is all a bit steep price-wise, how about showing your love of the flightless Antarctican in mug form? After all, can there be anything more British than a swig of steaming Earl Grey from a Penguin Books tri-band Great Expectations mug? And at £8.99 from The Literary Gift Company it’s not to be sniffed at.
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