Franz Kafka is one of the major figures of 20th-century literature and is best know for fusing elements of realism with the absurd. His work often features, surreal predicaments akin to one's most bizarre nightmares and sleep paralyses. Penguin Modern Classics created The Essential Franz Kafka box set to commemorate his best known works, The Metamorphosis, The Trial, and The Castle. In this redesign of the collection, Penguin wanted to better represent the themes and emotions explored in Kafka's writing: alienation, guilt, powerlessness, and existential anxiety.
To redesign The Essential Franz Kafka box set, the included works and their themes were further explored. What stuck was an overwhelming sense of isolation and helplessness experienced by each protagonist and, in turn, the audience. A gritty, messy, and hand-drawn visual identity was created to capture this sense of human vulnerability. The author's name is hand lettered with a rough, brush texture, and it is paired with a series of scribbly pen and ink illustrations that represent the plot of each novel. The titles and interior texts incorporate clean typefaces that contrast the handmade elements and give a sense of peripheral order, such as that which binds Edgar Samsa, Joseph K, and K to their societal predicaments.