This is a first Slovenian translation of a French short novel for children Baba Diène et Morceau-de-Sucre on a friendship between a coloured boy Baba Diène and a white boy called Sugar Cube, bound in the bushes of Baba Diène’s village. The illustrations inside were taken from the original French edition.
The cover was designed by Uroš Vagaja, one of the most prolific and esteemed Yugoslav book designers of the most war period, responsible for illustrating over 100 (and possibly many more) books. Trained as an architect, he was active as a painter, illustrator and stage designer, and during WWII was heavily involved in underground Partisan printing. After the war, Vagaja studied architecture in Prague and Ljubljana, graduating in 1956.
Vagaja’s book designs combine modern lines with flat colourful surfaces, a common motif influenced by the techniques of Partisan underground printing, which succeeded in creating powerful images with scarce resources, such as a limited palate employing linocuts. His narrative dustjackets were positioned in a dialogue with minimalistic covers, usually designed by simple printed and embossed lines, speaking to the heart of the story.
One of the key characteristics of Vagaja’s work was his employment of maps as a narrative design, especially in the form of endpapers, where he often used cartography, based on his own drafts.
Vagaja was also known as a poster designer, most famous for his draft for a 1952 Cockta poster – the Slovenian-Yugoslav take on Coca-Cola. The poster remains an iconic classic of post war Yugoslav –Slovenian design, even today adorning the walls of countless bars, restaurants, private apartments and offices (including our own!).
Our example is unread, with minor wear and comes from a deaccessioned publisher’s library.