Inhouse 78 Nature Stilled

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Arch MacDonnell
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Alistair McCready, Arch MacDonnell, Jane MacDonnell, Dean Foster, Toby Curnow
  • Client
    Te Papa Press
Judge's comments:

This book is matriculas in every touch point, we loved the way the content was organised, it felt so clever and seamless. The photography spoke to the subject matter in such a beautiful way, which complimented the design.


Photographer Jane Ussher spent several weeks in Te Papa’s natural history collection storage areas capturing images of insects, fish, molluscs and botanical specimens. Despite the images being provided in obvious catalogue groupings, a bold move was made to reject this categorisation using a colour wheel to inform a chromatic plate sequence for the 157 images. The images were blurred to the point of abstraction to where the most essential colour could be distilled. Each image then became a colour swatch that could be assigned a value and placed within a colour wheel. Colour hues became a unique and consciously arbitrary way to navigate the natural world and curate the collection within the book’s interior pages. Rhythm is always critical in reader experience, the colour and scale of plates set an intentionally slow pace of movement. The grid is flexible to accommodate the varied proportions of the imagery throughout. Compositions have generous margins allowing each plate room to breathe. Nature—Stilled features two custom typefaces designed specifically for this publication; the display typeface is inspired by the foundation stone of the Dominion Museum (where many of the objects were once housed) and the body copy (Still Sans) draws on type-centric ephemera from yesteryear’s museum catalogues. The text is easily read, and the forms robust, despite appearing delicate on the page.