UN student impresses the UK’s leading art and illustration experts

Date 16.11.2015

​​A Graphic Communication student from the University of Northampton has won a prestigious design award from the UK’s biggest book publisher.

Scott Kooken has been named winner of the Adult Non-Fiction Award in Penguin Random House UK’s Annual Design Awards.

Scott, from Budel in the Netherlands, thoroughly impressed the judging panel with his cover design for international bestseller Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner.  The panel included Penguin Random House UK’s Art Directors  Jim Stoddart and John Hamilton and Managing Director Joanna Prior and guest judges Michael Acton Smith, founder of Mind Candy and creator of Moshi Monsters; and graphic designer Angus Hyland.

Explaining the inspiration behind his winning design, Scott said: “Freakonomics is full of small stories and theories that almost feel like small-sketches to me. When reading, it feels like the author is sitting in front of you and explaining these stories by sketching them on a paper. This is the feeling I tried to capture on the front cover. The illustration is a visualisation of the title. The self-made word Freakonomicsis combination of two words, I did the same with the illustration. Also when looking at it, it gives you the same “aha” feeling as most of the stories do.”

Guest judge, Michael Acton Smith said of Scott’s design: “Strong, bold design. Definitely the most commercial of the finalists. I particularly liked the optical illusion graph.”

Joanna Prior, Managing Director for Penguin General said: “Bold and confident, I could see it jumping out in store. I thought the David-Shrigley-esque drawing was appealing to a younger readership and made the back friendly and approachable.”

Gemma Minchin's shortlisted designFellow Graphic Communication student at the University, Gemma Minchin, from Befordshire, took second place in the Adult Fiction Cover Award.​

Gemma impressed with her design for Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson’s semi-biographical novel, judged by artist David Hughes; co-founder and creative director for la boca Scot Bendall, and Penguin Random House UK’s creative directors Suzanne Dean , Claire Ward and Richard Ogle.

Gemma said her concept was: “… to combine religious iconography with a strong tone of female anatomy to create a controversial and tongue in cheek, snappy book cover. The idea was to create an image in which the reader would be given control over the interpretation but would still arrive at the conclusion that the book has strong themes revolving around the relationship between religion and sexuality.”

Suzanne Dean, Art Director for Vintage, commented on Gemma’s design: “We couldn’t help smiling at the designer’s playfulness with this cover. The mix of sexual and religious icons, and colour palette felt very contemporary.”

A third Graphic Communication student, Meghan Hughes, from Wellingborough, was also shortlisted in the awards with her design for Freakonomics.

Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK, said: “Penguin Random House has created thousands of iconic book covers and we pride ourselves in being a home for the best creative talent in our industry.  Through the Penguin Random House Design Award we are able to engage with a new generation of designers who, we hope, will join us in inspiring and entertaining readers everywhere, both now and in the future.”

Now in its ninth year, the Penguin Random House Design Award offers students on an Art or Design course at HND or degree level to design a cover for a classic adult or children’s book for the chance to win a work placement in Penguin Random House’s Adults or Children’s studio and £1,000 cash prize.

To find out more visit the Design Award website.