The Peter Schmidt Group has developed a new design system for KOSMOS Verlag

The field guide "Was blüht denn da?" (What is Thriving There?) has become one of the great classics of nature for plant lovers and has maintained a constant presence within the German book market for over eighty years as a result of its proven KOSMOS colour keys which enable the unambiguous identification of flora. Yet for its latest anniversary edition, and indeed for all of KOSMOS' guides to nature and other nonfiction publications, The Peter Schmidt Group has developed a strong and characteristic redesign system that now additionally reflects developments within current book culture.

The publishing house KOSMOS Verlag is considered to be a pioneer in the specialised guides to nature segment of the German book market due to the company's historical origins. Initially set up in Stuttgart as the Franckh'schen Verlagshandlung in 1822 it went on to further launch the "Kosmos Gesellschaft der Naturfreunde" (Kosmos Society of the friends of Nature) 1904, and thus an enthusiasm for nature alongside the printed word has always been central to the DNA of the company. Over this time KOSMOS has repeatedly set new standards in publishing, from just over a hundred years ago when it created the first front caption sleeve to the initial introduction more than eighty years ago of the colour keys in "Was blüht denn da?" that still today simplify plant identification through a clear design system.

This long tradition is now once again setting standards for the future: Previously, KOSMOS' individual titles had followed neither a uniform typography or imagery and the resulting visual impression given on the shelves of bookstores was highly heterogeneous. To remedy this the company has now developed a new design concept for its field guides and nonfiction publications in partnership with the brand and design agency the Peter Schmidt Group that successfully addresses this dilemma and additionally strengthens the presence of the entire KOSMOS range within bookstores.

An eighty year old classic shines with new self confidence.

The seminal work "Was blüht denn da?" showcased the implementation of this new design and continued an eighty year old tradition that had been eagerly awaited by nature lovers prior to its publication. Now, beautifully set typography and authentic imagery combine together to give a clear indication of the title's quality even at an initial glance. Additionally, the publisher's logo has been lowered from its original position at the top corner of the front cover to the level of the book's title and the front caption sleeve has also returned as an iconic identification feature from the book's previous design. This had originally been an invention of the publisher's founder Euchar Nehmann, together with Walter Keller, and today it is unthinkable to imagine "Was blüht denn da?" without this clear reference to almost two centuries of publishing history directly in the foreground. Concisely recollecting earlier innovation, the front caption sleeve equally highlights the quality of the title's content that alongside the illustrations of Marianne Golte-Bechtle combine together to create a small work of art.

The future of book culture: The "enthusiast's factor" is becoming increasingly important.

The purposeful positioning of high quality field guides and nonfiction publications is however not merely a creative whim, but rather a sound branding strategy in itself for KOSMOS. The publishing house stands for extensive knowledge and self confident understanding, yet continually strives to remain approachable and accessible to as wide an audience as possible. "It is about a true claim to leadership and genuine competence, rather than just status thinking," explains Heidrun Angerer, the project's Executive Creative Director at the Peter Schmidt Group.

Brand experts from the agency's Hamburg office have developed the new design system and assisted KOSMOS in the creative implementation of its 2016 spring program, effectively enabling the publisher to respond to modern changes in social trends as today's field guides and nonfiction books are not only competing with the titles of other publishers, but also with digital platforms and Apps. Books are today becoming ever more collector's items and as such not only the content of the titles remains crucial, but also their look and form. "A book is increasingly seen as an alternative concept to the fast pace of digitisation and represents a deliberate slowing down of life," says Heidrun. Sensory components within publishing are also increasingly gaining importance too, as Heidrun adds "A book smells of paper, it has a textural experience and perhaps even a unique typography that could be written art itself, together these all add to the overall appeal of a decorative design". Heidrun also mentions that elaborating on the past can equally bring benefits today and that this can often be seen in current publishing trends, with simple, naturalistic and historical aesthetics being reinterpreted from the past and assimilated into modern book making techniques.