Designer Rosie Palmer Shakes Things Up for David Szalay's Turbulence

Designer Rosie Palmer Shakes Things Up for David Szalay's Turbulence

Rosie Palmer is a book cover designer for Vintage. Here she tells us how she created the cover of David Szalay’s Turbulence.

The initial cover brief for this title was that it should be an atmospheric photograph of an airport or aeroplane and tie in with the feel of the Vintage paperback cover for All That Man is, Szalay’s previous book. After trying a few different images it wasn’t to be, and we instead opted to go along a typographic route. However, in an attempt to keep some continuity between the last book and this one, we kept the title split like how All That Man is and this was the starting point for how the title came to be hyphenated and spilt over 3 lines. This added an element of concrete poetry to convey the subject matter even further; hinting at Szalay’s ripple effect narrative. It also led us very naturally in the direction of world airport codes.


When thinking about airport paraphernalia, luggage labels felt like an obvious choice. Previous cover options involved adding certain elements, such as placing it in situ over a sky or pieces of luggage. We found that this over complicated the concept, so we decided to strip it back to the clean cover that it is today.


The airport codes are used as headers across each story in the book, and airport codes not only appear on destination boards, but also on luggage tags so again it felt quite instinctive to reference them in the format, typography and green strip edge. The colour green on the edge of the label refers to the beginning and end destinations within the collection of stories being within the EU, where all the baggage tags are printed with a green-edged label. The date of travel, ‘06DEC’ repeated three times next to each abbreviated ‘destination’ in the title, is actually the books real publication date.

After studying the world of travel aviation further, it led us to the idea of using the cover as a giant bar code, like the labels are used themselves. The 13 digits underneath the barcode on the front cover is the books ISBN number. Book shops can literally scan the front cover to sell the book!


Final cover


Design Editor, Painter, Designer, Lifelong bibliophile.