13 Nov 2018.

How we produced some of the most challenging print projects

By Vesna Đurašin, Production Manager

Interested to find out how we managed to produce a cook book that has to be baked before use or a room that glows in the dark? How to make a plantable book jacket, a packaging box without glue or a box made of concrete? Below you can find stories behind some of the agency’s most challenging print projects shared by Vesna Đurašin, Production Manager.


Well Done

Most often people ask me how we managed to design the famous cookbook that has to be baked before use. So why don’t we start from that? We used irreversible thermochromic ink activated at temperature of 96°C. We did not like it that the print could be seen on paper even before baking. To fix it, we needed to make a sample able to conceal the thermocromic print. After a lot of testing, and a lot of ruined booklets mind you, we managed to find a perfect “prep” recipe. The printing house must have produced twice as many booklets than eventually delivered. But it was only a part of the challenge.

In order to put this small book of recipes inside a big book with the corporate financial statement, we had to make a perfectly straight and even hole across the entire book block. The printing house solved this problem by cutting quarter sheets, and then by micro-moving the cutting machine for every next quarter sheet. The quarters were manually folded and inserted one into another before sewing to prevent sliding of the “hole”.

The red colored cuts of the book block could not be obtained mechanically, so we contacted the Croatian Conservation Institute and got in touch with Slavko Hison. The old master, who inter alia made a gift prayer book for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Croatia, manually colored the cuts. The process was slow-going and the workshop was small, which was time-consuming. That’s why the sewn book blocks were transported from the printing house in Osijek to Zagreb in sets of 20 pieces, which were colored and dried, and then taken back to Osijek for bookbinding.

However, during bookbinding we were faced with an unexpected issue. The book covers were made of structured paper instead of commonly used wrapper material. So a few hours after glueing and casing the book, we spotted ripples. We tried to seek help everywhere and one bookbinder suggested folding the paper against the grain. That did the trick, although it was against all folding rules. The ripples were gone.

Near the very end of the project, it dawned on us that the thermocromic books would have to be delivered to the client by truck. The client in turn would use different means of transport to ship them worldwide. And during summer the temperatures inside closed storage spaces could be very high. In order to avoid premature thermocromic reaction, we designed EPF transport packaging to serve as insulatation against high temperature.

This book, as well as a feature in The New York Times, made Podravka famous all over the world. After more then ten years the project still appears in many publications. It has won many awards, including: Clio, Epica, Red Dot, London International Awards, New York Festivals, Art Directors Club of New York, Cresta and Communication Arts.


Good ideas glow in the dark

They do, but we were saved by the sun :) This book cover was printed using fluorescent color barely visible in daylight on white paper, but emitting pale blue glow at night. According to Brigada’s design for the book pitch pavilion during the Weekend Media Festival, the books were to be “slipped in” among other white books stacked on 20m long white book shelves in a white room.

We were pressed for time as always, and the budget available was smaller than needed to make a sufficient number of books to populate 20m long shelves. To be able to pull it off against all odds, we made dummy fake book props, like the ones used in furniture showrooms. And since fluorescent color has to be exposed to sunlight to glow in the dark, the hostesses walked to and fro during the entire festival. Luckily, it was a sunny weekend. The project was instantly covered by domestic and global bloggers and journalists alike, and the book, as well as the pavilion, won the Red Dot Award.


In good hands

While working on this project, I learned something about human circulatory system. Namely, this book was designed to respond to human touch. The covers were printed using reversible thermoreactive ink, i.e. ink that reacts to changes in temperature. Such inks should be ordered well in advance and are not really precise when temperature parameters are concerned. We had an idea to have the jacket ink react at temperature of 27°C, and the illustration ink inside the book block at temperature of 25°C, which resulted in two different inks from two different producers.

However, a great number of people have poor peripheral circulation, especially if sitting for a longer time, which is expected at shareholders’ assemblies. We were not able to get the desired reaction during testing as nobody had palms warm enough to trigger the reaction! So after proof printing, we switched the inks. The ink we wanted to use for the jacket, we used for the illustrations, and vice-versa.

Moreover, as the assembly was held in June, the air conditioning inside the room had to be set at cooler than usual temperature on account of the ink switch, to prevent the books from reacting prematurely. In the end, the idea took off and the book “came to life” in the hands of shareholders. One of the world’s leading design portals, Dezeen, had a feature about this project, and the project won Red Dot and D&AD Awards.


A book on sustainable development

Vesna, can we make a plantable book jacket that will grow into a plant – my colleagues asked me one day. To pull this off, I needed to find a seed of autochthonous species small enough to be glued between two sheets of paper. After doing some research I found a seed of birch tree, which although autochthonous, could not be found in Croatia, and had to be imported from abroad. But to get the seeds we wanted, we first had to dry and air them to allow the wind to remove any residue. You can watch the following video to see how the seeds were glued onto paper:



How to make a book that is much heavier in your hands than at first it may seem? Like this. Owing to the small book format and the book block made of offset paper, the covers were the only space left where weight could be increased. The idea to use lead for the covers was soon abandoned since lead is too soft. That’s why we used sheet metal owing to high spatial weight. According to our calculations, we needed a 3 mm thick sheet to obtain the required weight, but of course nobody had it available at the time. That is why the covers were made using two sheets of 2 mm and 1 mm combined. The sheets were packed into a PU jacket to look like any other regular book cover. In the end, all the users had the weight of surprise in their hands.



When you think you have got a grip on all book ideas, my dear creative colleagues come up with a new challenge. This time the idea was to make a book in a box similar to the cornerstone. Initially we wanted to make a stone box. But to be able to stay within our budget and time frame, I suggested a concrete box instead of stone, which sat well with the team of authors because the project concerned a construction project on the Adriatic coast.

This brought me to Jurica Huljev, an artist who works with concrete, whom luckily I knew as he was my university friend. He is famous for making a wearable concrete dress and many other fantastic innovations. He managed to design our concrete box to be light enough and sturdy at the same time, closed with in-built strong magnets to prevent box opening and the book falling out of the box during transport. He also managed to obtain the effect of rough and refined texture at the same time.

To have the name of the project and the sample appear on the lid the moment the water is splashed over the lid, and over the engraved slogan, first the name and the sample had to be printed using screen process printing and water repellent color, after which the slogan was engraved. The final touch was coating the inside of the box with lavender oil to achieve a multi-sensory Mediterranean experience. The project won the Red Dot Award – a global mark of high quality design.



Enough about books. Now something about packaging. A designer made a bottle bag incorporating a label with microperforation for postage stamps. The idea was to have the label attached onto the bottle once the bottle is being taken out of the bag. The issue was how to attach the label cuts onto the bottles filled with oil manually in a small family bottling plant.

After some testing we ended up with the perforation strong enough to stick to the bag before the bottle is taken out, which could be torn off when the bottle was being taken out, without damaging the label. We “only” needed to find a glue that will stick to the bottle only after the bottle has been put into the bag in the bottling plant. That is why we used gum arabic, a natural gum used as adhesive for postage stamps.

The printing house staff used a brush to apply the glue onto the bottle in the position where the label was supposed to land. After drying, they made a bag. After filling the bottles with oil, the Chiavalon family put the bottle into the bag. With their moist fingers they glued the part of the bag with the label onto the bottle. The project was all over Croatian media. It was also featured in Design Week, Dieline and Graphis and has won many awards including Red Dot and Pentawards.



For this eco-friendly clothing brand we had to develop appealing and cost-effective packaging made of recycled material, in two sizes, easily transported and packaged in stores. All the prerequisites were fulfilled by a model of paper cup with a lid closed without any glue. For the bottom of the cup I used my good knowledge of descriptive geometry and my love for origami. Everybody was able to use the perforations and circular cardboard to fold it into a cone, fitting it together and closing the bottom without any glue. The design won the first Dieline Award in the category of Fashion.


Istragrafika press kit

The inspiration for this project the designers drew from a number of structural packaging examples. They created a box of interesting dynamics putting together a combination of straight and curved lines. For our pitch I made a scale model for the client with my own hands using packaging material, a blunt kitchen knife and a pair of compasses. The mock-up came out just perfectly, the client was in raptures and nobody had a clue how painstaking the production phase would be.

The box content was printed and processed using all available printing techniques, but after each cutting phase, the box played its own tune. It was impossible to assemble it nicely, it was creased at places where it was supposed to be flat. The curved surfaces were too strained, sticking out and impossible to be closed properly. Together with the printing house we found a solution how to “calm down” the restless paper. We designed an insert for the bottom which fixed the box at the right places, and maintained the fluttering curved surfaces. Long hours of patient manual work in the printing house bore fruit and the print run was delivered right on time for the big press conference.



Lone Hotel

Even visual identities sometimes make me seek creative solutions. In this case the challenge was to produce 73 types of promotional items for a hotel in three weeks, including menus, notepads, coasters, as well as parking tickets and many other branded knick-knacks a hotel might need. To make the best of it, together with designers I set the printing specifications, optimized the print run with the client, and following the workflow produced by selected printing houses, we made a list of priorities for design and preparation.

In order to have consistency of the items printed by two printing houses using different techniques, the standards were set for digital and offset printing based on proof prints. During one week of printing at two locations, the designer and I had more than one hundred checks, that is quality controls, often times during wee hours. The outcome: the client was able to receive first-rate items in due time. The project was featured in Designboom for instance, the world’s most popular e-magazine about design.



A genuinely groundbreaking campaign, at least for me, with ample ATL and BTL materials. Since the visual included a specific shade of orange color, Pantone Flourescent Orange, I had to find a way how to make the color consistent in a variety of materials and formats in digital print. Being pressed for time and costs, we opted for screen-process printing.

The color was ordered from London and of course, it arrived last minute. The screen-process printing was used to print full color tone onto self-adhesive sheet paper and foils cut out by the digital printing house into shapes to be glued onto positions in large formats and BTL products. The customers soon recognized the specific color and its consistency in all formats.



Spam Jam

And for the very end, a project with the longest specification in my career. Why? Because every page was both printed and fully processed differently to demonstrate the potentials offered by Igepa paper. It all looked like this:

Size: 270x310mm
Extent: 52 pages + endpapers
Endpapers: Skin Red 135g
Pp. 1-4: Rives Dot Bright White 170g
Pp. 5-12: Rives Sensation Gloss Tactile Bright White 170g
Pp. 13-16: Rives Design Bright White 170g
Pp. 17-20: Rives Sensation Gloss Tradition Bright White 170g
Pp. 21-24: Recycled Particles Snow 150g
Pp. 25-28: Skin Ivory 135g
Pp. 29-32: Conqueror CX22 Diamond White 160g
Pp. 33-36: Conqueror Concept Gold Dust 160g
Pp. 37-40: Conqueror Stonemarque high White 160g
Pp. 41-44: Rives Tweed Bright White 170g
Pp. 45-52: Skin Extra White 135g
Endpapers: UV varnish 1/0
Pp. 1-3: CMYK
Pp. 4-5: pantone 805
Pp. 6-7: 4/4 CMYK
Pg. 8: CMYK + UV varnish partially
Pg. 9: CMYK
Pg. 10: CMYK + UV varnish partially
Pg. 11: CMYK
Pp. 12-13: pantone 805
Pp. 14-29: CMYK
Pg. 30: CMYK + hot foil Luxor Alufin 432 on two positions (100x50mm and 65x50mm)
Pp. 31-33: CMYK
Pg. 34: CMYK + hot foil Luxor Alufin 220 on two positions (92x142mm and 10x14mm)
Pp. 35-36: CMYK
Pg. 37: CMYK + hot foil Luxor Alufin 220 on two positions (74x40mm and 55x40mm)
Pp. 38-44: CMYK
Pg. 45: CMYK + UV varnish partially
Pp. 46-47: pantone 805
Pg. 48: CMYK + pantone 804
Pp. 49-52: CMYK

Finishing: perfect binding, hardcover, red headbands
Case: Blue wowen cloth on 2mm stiff board
Case printing: Hot foil 2/0 Kurz Colorit 911 and Kurz Colorit 963
First run: 5.000 pcs

The project won the D&AD Award. It was featured in Dezeen, designboom, Design Week, Design Taxi and Communication Arts.

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