Murty Classical Library, Harvard University Press

Mudras are deeply rooted in Indian culture. They find mention in ancient texts or shastras. Several styles of traditional Indian art and physical-spiritual practices like yoga rely heavily on them.

Most forms of Indian classical dance integrate combinations of various hasta mudras or hand gestures which are iconographic of feelings, objects and several other abstractions. Hasta Mudras were selected as a theme as they are identifiable, symbolic and culturally expressive across many Indian regional, ethno-religious and linguistic communities.

The series to be published by Murty Classical Library is a translation of literature of various Indian languages to English. The enterprise translates across borders and cultures, links the past and the present and spreads knowledge. The design intent is to embody this mission.

The mudras on the book covers are compositions of alphabets from several sources including Persian derived Urdu, English and over fifteen Indic scripts. The compositions symbolize both transmission of knowledge and an amalgamation of cultures and types to create a beautiful greater whole.

The design depicts the process of translation from the Author to the Translator. The single-hand mudra indicates a single translator for a volume. A mudra using both hands together depicts several translators within a volume. A second variation of a mudra with two hands is proposed for volumes with several works and translators.

Moving patterns on the alphabets define the top and bottom of the back cover and envelop the logo in a representation of the primary literary and linguistic objective of the library. A metallic-patina background was selected for the cover. The metallic suite is representative of the contemporary enterprise of translation and academia; the patina a symbol of age and virtue.

We recommend that the alphabets forming the mudras be embossed to add textural and physical dimension to the scripts. In our analysis, this physical quality increases the responsiveness of newer and younger audiences to other scripts through touch.

The design, colors and contrasts were selected and tested for print in both color and black and white variations. The final aesthetic is intended to be contemporary and representative of our times.

The logo and logotype are designed to be recognizable, iconic and translatable across scales. M for ‘Murty’ is depicted as the leaves of an open book.

The center point of the spine symbolizes MCL’s mission to be the transition point for the interchange and translation of historic texts and ideas to a contemporary sphere. The double-S on the spine has been mirrored as a representation of the process of translation. The final double formed shape alludes both to the arches and vaults of older Indian architecture and to the paisley graphic form – a shape often found in traditional Indian motifs.

The solid dot implies MCL’s position as an academic and intellectual authority center and additionally adds to the Indian nature of the library and its founding patron by visually representing a neutral point-source or “bindu.”

Asymmetry is maintained to highlight the dynamic and contemporary nature of both the enterprise and the logo. The selected font is modern but with bold, solid serifs adding weight and depth to the base of the book. It visually represents strength and implies both age and agelessness. The logo and logotype have no pre-determined color, rather they behave like overlays which take on the nature of the subject and visual matter around them.

We recommend that the logotype be primarily used across the majority of media including the website, print collateral and branding opportunities and the logo be used only within a small print format on book covers and the like.

Versions of the logo and logotype were tested for both screen and print across scales in both colour and black and white.






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Further Work in VISUAL DESIGN