Take part in Boook.Land’s collaborative digital novel designed by Harry Boyd and TwoMuch Studio

Falmouth University’s School of Communication enacted the help of Boook.Land’s creators to spark interesting ways of collaboration while working from home.

29 May 2020

Back in November 2018, graphic designer Harry Boyd teamed up with the London-based design studio TwoMuch for a unique digital proposition bringing together countless collaborators for an online novel. The project, titled Boook.Land invites users to crowd together in a virtual space to work together on a collaborative novel in real-time. Running for 30 days a couple of years back, now, in 2020, the collaborators have returned. This time, for a new edition made in conjunction with Falmouth University.

Boook.Land: The Speaking Machine provided an opportunity for Harry, Ben and Malone (Ben and Malone being the co-founders of TwoMuch) to refine the first edition of the project with new learnings. “Along with streamlined UI and some backend updates,” explains Ben, “the biggest update is to the design and site structure which expands the platform beyond a single issue to allow for multiple editions.”

Given the students and staff of Falmouth University as well as the collaborators are all working from home at the moment, the project offers a space for creatives to connect on the novel which hopes to amass 50,000 words before the end of the month. Written and illustrated online, The Speaking Machine welcomes as many people as possible to get involved. Users will only be able to see the previous page of the story to continue and only one person can write or draw at a time. Malone adds on this, “We feel that these limitations helped keep the process simple, quick, and keeps the story moving.”

The majority of the changes from the first project are to do with the identity. The creative collaborators needed to find a way to allow each story to have its own sub-identity while sitting coherently under the umbrella brand of Boook.Land. Additionally, how to create an identity for a book that hasn’t been written yet? “Our solution was fairly simple,” says Harry on the matter. Each book would have a unique colour palette and cover page representing the project’s sub-identity. And for The Speaking Machine, he continues, “we came up with an energetic, audio-reactive word mark which moves and shifts across the cover.”

Utilising characters from various fonts designed by Leah Maldonado’s GlyphWorld, the collaborators latched onto their atmosphere of the strange and unexpected. Combined with the fresh, digital green and subdued cream colour seen across the site, the identity for the new digital book is a crisp revamp of the first edition, while maintaining a visual openness to accommodate any weaving storylines.

The project also arose as a way for Falmouth University’s School of Communication to inspire its students while working from home. Dr Robyn Cook, senior lecturer and course leader at the art school, explains that the university has been working on a series of creative briefs in response to the current pandemic. She tells us: “Our thinking was that for designers (students and industry), the move to online ‘studios’ provokes questions around alternative approaches to collaboration and how these new methodologies and processes might impact the kind of creative work we produce.” With that in mind, she saw that Boook.Land provided the “perfect fit” to spark new modes of thinking and outputs, and approached Harry, Ben and Malone to launch a new edition, also working with writer David Devanny to come up with The Speaking Machine’s overarching theme.

Ultimately, the project aims to bring together creatives from a myriad of disciplines – from writers to illustrators – and create a conversation about the broader creative industries. The novel even opens with a sentence from the university’s chancellor, Dawn French. “We hope the Boook.Land experience demonstrates the power of collaboration and unrestricted creativity,” adds the three other collaborators, “We really hope more and more people will discover Boook.Land and keep the story going.” So with that in mind, get onto the site now to take part. It’s open until 30 June 2020. And, after that, the digital version of the final collaboration will be available to read and explore fully online. Enjoy!


Boook.Lands: The Speaking Machine

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About the Author

Jynann Ong

Jynann joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. She went freelance in 2022.

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