Pentagram’s box set design shines a light on The Dark Side Of The Moon as it hits 50
Harry Pearce and Jon Marshall of Pentagram have created a mighty box set to mark half a century of Pink Floyd’s iconic album, released 50 years ago today
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On 1 March 1973, Pink Floyd released their eighth studio album, The Dark Side of the Moon. The album had been a work in progress for a couple of years beforehand, as the ten songs were relentlessly toured and honed before finally being recorded in 1972 and 1973 at what is now Abbey Road Studios in London. Considered one of the most impressive achievements of modern rock music, TDSOTM was a kaleidoscopic concept album that took listeners on a journey through the human psyche, with sonic innovations to match.
When it came to the presentation of this epic suite of songs, the band turned once again to Hipgnosis, the design agency set up by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell in 1968. RCA graduate Thorgerson had been at the same school as both Roger Waters and Syd Barrett and designed the cover for Pink Floyd’s second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), at the band’s invitation. Barrett subsequently left the band in a debilitating fog of incipient mental illness in 1968, but Thorgerson and Powell continued to work on the Floyd’s artwork, including Atom Heart Mother (1970) and Obscured by Clouds (1972).
Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon 50th anniversary box set
This new box set edition takes the original artwork concept and amplifies it, just as the band boosted their stage presence around this time with a vast new PA system. Designed by Pentagram Partners Harry Pearce and Jon Marshall, this box set will delight those in search of the ultimate ‘deluxe collectors’ edition’, coming complete with a copy of The Official Pink Floyd 50th Anniversary Book, published by Thames & Hudson, as well as many extras.
The album-sized book was also designed by Harry Pearce, and contains a feast of unseen imagery, including photographs by Jill Furmanovsky and the Hipgnosis team, all taken during the heady album tours of the early 1970s. There are also swathes of sketches and rough artwork for the iconic cover image.
After all, that image is one of the reasons the album has endured, selling over 45 million copies to date. The classic design was derived from a textbook photograph of a prism, through which a beam of white light is passing, only to emerge in all the colours of the spectrum. Designed by Thorgerson, the illustrations were by George Hardie. Of the seven options produced by the agency, the band were united in their choice of the prism.
On the box set, Pearce has taken this pyramid form even further. ‘Picking up on the Hipgnosis theme of ancient Egypt and [the] Pyramids, I thought about the wonderful sense of discovery that’s built into the idea of a nested sarcophagus,’ he says. ‘The layers and layers reveal memorabilia, and at the centre the original The Dark Side Of The Moon vinyl’.
As well as the book, the treasures within include a CD and gatefold vinyl of a newly remastered The Dark Side Of The Moon studio album, together with a Blu-Ray + DVD audio bearing the original 5.1 mix and remastered stereo versions. Audio-minded fans will not be short-changed as there’s another Blu-ray disc containing a Dolby Atmos mix, together with a CD and LP copy of The Dark Side Of The Moon – Live At Wembley Empire Pool, London, 1974. Finally, there’s a music book and some replica 7-inch singles and memorabilia.
‘For the “live” album cover we used Hipgnosis' original marked-up artwork. Working with an existing design classic such as The Dark Side Of The Moon, it felt wholly wrong to create new conceptual imagery,’ Pearce says. ‘More importantly it was about honouring the original concept and complementing it with an empathetic framework.’
Hipgnosis’ Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell approached Pentagram to realise the entire package. ‘The familiar triangular prism image had run its course over five decades and it was now time to reinvent,’ he says. ‘As you unwrap the multi-layered packaging, the final delight is the inner gold box containing the first “live” vinyl of The Dark Side Of The Moon.’
These nesting boxes use different materials for each layer, culminating in the gold at the centre. It’s a masterpiece of cardboard engineering that completely eschews plastic. ‘It’s a work of art,’ says Powell, one that honours this timelessly rare combination of commercial and artistic success.
The Dark Side Of The Moon (50th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set) is released 24 March 2023, available to preorder, PinkFloyd.com (opens in new tab)
The box set is also available from amazon.co.uk (opens in new tab)
Pentagram.com (opens in new tab) ThamesandHudson.com (opens in new tab)
Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
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