See the gorgeous Penguin student Design Award winners 2016

This year sees students designing for A Clockwork Orange, How to be a Woman and Eric Kastner’s Emil and the Detectives.


A fitting celebration of the awards’ tenth anniversary, the entries for the Penguin Design Award - which nurtures the upcoming generation of design and art students - are absolutely gorgeous.

This year, students designed a new cover for either Erich Kastner’s Emil and the Detectives (Children’s Cover Award), Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange (Adult Fiction Cover Award) and How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (Adult Non-fiction Cover Award).

Since the competition’s launch, there have been over 7,724 submissions from 130 UK and international universities, with 17 winning students, two of whom now work at Penguin. This year, there were a record-breaking 1,639 entries. The three winners receive a work placement at Penguin Random House UK design studios and £1,000.

Judging the books by their covers are a plethora of influential successes from across the publishing world - from Alexandra Shulman, Vogue UK Editor-in-Chief, to Anthony Browne, author and illustrator of children’s books.

Image: by Ailsa Johnson for Erich Kastner’s Emil and the Detectives

Ailsa’s inviting, clever design focuses on the story and celebrates it in fantastic, amusing details - all with gorgeous use of colour and a wonderfully jagged, sketchy style.

“When thinking about the book I considered the setting of the 1930’s Germany, and the sharp contrast between town life and the lights of Berlin,” said Alisa. “The train scene is quite tense - Emil has already been getting wound up thinking about the police and about the money in his pocket; and now he has to sit on a train, alone, and make sure nothing happens, all while worrying about Berlin.

“I wanted to use this scene because it’s where the story really kicks off, but it doesn’t give much to away either.”

Image: front and bank cover of Ailsa’s design.


Simple and confident, Zack Crook’s cover celebrates what A Clockwork Orange is all about: remarkable, bizarre language. Its beautiful, yet edgy typography wonderfully reflects the disturbing dystopia.

Image: by Zack Crook for Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange

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“With my cover, I decided to focus on the language famously used by Anthony Burgess in his novel,” said Zack. “I picked out words from the language I thought related to the themes in the book and illustrated this on the cover using my own typographic style which I tried to relate to the dystopian future setting of the book. I then started to pick out details in the typography such as Alex’s face in orange and then also the name of the book in black.”

Image: front and back cover or Zack’s design.


Zachary’s assertive design and beautiful typography executes a simple, amusing idea - pink highligher, that is - with clear joy.

Image: by Zachary Wieland for Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman


Caitlin liked it too: “A deserving winner for its confidence, simplicity, and effectual reminder of how incredibly pleasing a pink highlighter pen is. Everyone loves a pink highlighter pen, AM I RIGHT? Well done darling.”

Image: front and back cover or Zachary’s design.

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