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Book covers: Sapiens

By: Daniel Pomlett on 18.08.17
Category: Print
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Sapiens is a fascinating book by Yuval Noah Harari that tells the story of what enabled the once relatively insignificant and unimpressive hominid Homo Sapien, to become the dominate species on the planet. In the book Yuval describes how, at some point in their history Homo Sapiens evolved a skill that seemingly no other species on the planet is capable of, namely, the ability to imagine things that don’t exist. In essence Sapiens had become a story telling species which meant that social groups could be bound together and mobilised not only around social interaction which limited their size, but around ideas. This development of creativity is known as the Cognitive Revolution and as Yuval puts it in the book, ever since this point…

“…Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.”

When redesigning the book cover I wanted  try and communicate the notion that this was a book about human imagination and how this creative process has lead us through a series of revolutions.

I broke the page down into four distinct sections to represent the four key stages in human history. Each stage contains a human form standing on top of a stylised Earth with the human getting bigger and the Earth getting smaller at each stage. This is an attempt to communicate both the idea that Homo Sapiens are becoming more dominant as we move through the stages, but also that the world becomes more knowable and thus seems smaller. There is also a nod to the idea that with their success as a species Sapiens have marginalised the importance of the planet they live on.

I also wanted to get across the idea that the next level is brought about by the imagination of the previous one so each stages emanates from the head of the previous human.

At the bottom is the hunter gatherer phase in which Homo Sapiens have spent the majority of their existence on the planet. This is characterised by a dagger motif on the background to represent the more primitive tools used at that time. Next we have the agricultural stage, where humans started to farm land and domesticate animals. This is characterised by a wheat motif.

The bottom two stages

The hunter gatherer and agricultural stages

The third stage is the industrial revolution and the corporate world that has emerged since. This stage is characterised by a tie motif.

The industrial stage

The industrial stage

Finally, there is the ‘future’ stage which suggests a move towards space, but also the unknown. This is characterised by a star motif.

The future stage

The ‘future’ stage

The final design can be seen below…

Sapiens book cover

Sapiens book cover