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Guide Book Design for The Houses of Parliament

The Palace of Westminster, including Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower, is one of the most famous buildings in the world. After a crucial 5-year restoration project to the tower, scaffolding came down in summer 2022 revealing the dazzling gold and blue clock face and facade.

Photograph @ UK Parliament _ Jessica Taylor

Guide book design: The client brief Goldust Design was asked to design and layout the official new guide books to showcase stunning photographs of the restoration, and update the previous editions with recent history. The books will be sold in the gift shop, providing a fascinating souvenir for visitors to keep and learn more about these wonderful buildings, and also generate income within the shop.

Guide book design: What we did

Initially, I met with the editor, discussed the brief and ideas for development of the previous editions. In guide books, large, colourful photographs add value, so we agreed to add extra pages for full page and double page photo spreads. This shows the restoration in all its glory (the closest you will likely ever get to the clock face!), adds impact and helps vary the pace for the reader. The design style needed to be classic, elegant, easy to read and a touch more modern than the previous editions, but still sit within the UK Parliament brand, using their fonts and colour palette. Gold foil for the cover for a hint of luxury.

I toured the buildings, getting a feel for the them, noting key features and quickly capturing on my phone some of the beautiful details for inspiration. The buildings are packed full of decorative patterns, symbols and motifs. It was incredible to walk the corridors of power, with such a fascinating historic past spanning over 900 years. In the gift shop, I examined other merchandise and observed any visuals which could influence the guide book design.

Then I started the design. With page size and number of pages already agreed, book design is a giant jigsaw puzzle, one that I find immensely satisfying. The creation of a book is a team effort with the author, editor, designer, printer, marketing manager... and its great to hold it in my hands at last .

I lived in London for ten years in the 90s, catching the No.77 bus in Battersea every day, and whizzing past the Houses of Parliament on my way to work at a publisher in Covent Garden. As a kid I had seen Big Ben on TV's Blue Peter, and countless films, and stood on the pavement below it on a school trip, squinting up within a gaggle of children trying to see the clock, counting the booming chimes. Big Ben is such an iconic part of the London furniture, a constant in the background of city life. These books brought me wonderfully close to it.

The Houses of Parliament offer regular tours you can book through their website, well worth a visit!

If you'd like to discuss a book design project, contact Briony on 07989 949646 or email

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