How “The Boy Who Lived” Changed Design

Nothing is hotter this summer than Harry Potter (except the temperature here in DC). Our entire culture, my entire generation, has been influenced by this 7 book, 8 movie monstrosity of fantasy. The Washington Post declared that “to read Rowling is to pack a bag and make a visit,” and I for one can think of no truer a statement.

If millions of people have been affected by this series, wouldn’t it make sense for its influence to creep into our lives in unexpected ways? I’m sure you’ve heard of the College Quidditch Leagues (Go Virginia Tech Phoenixes!), and how wearing scarves with thick stripes is considered very cool (or maybe I’m just very dorky) but it is much more subtle than that. Designers take cues in all shapes and forms from the series whether they directly know it or not.

Harry Potter influenced design is like the boy himself: strong, genuine, honorable, and whimsical.

Harry is full of heart and sincerity and when a design emulates that, it’s easy to see his qualities shine through. The edges are rough, the colors are subdued, and there’s something that makes you stop and stay a while.

the pressure is good for you sign

Harry Potter influence: the Library effect

Colors are neutral, books are everywhere, and the message is to the point. Hermione would be so proud.


Harry Potter influence: Badges

Harry Potter influence: Badges

Badges are big in Harry Potter. They symbolize which house you belong to, but more importantly unify a group of people with similar qualities and character traits. Wouldn’t you like to stand behind something honorable and steadfast?


Harry Potter influence: Letterforms

Harry Potter influence: Letterforms

The well known “Harry Potter typeface” is the epitome of the brand. This look of “old school lettering” – Serif fonts and script faces – is on the rise.

Harry Potter influence: Wisps

Harry Potter influence: Wisps

Swirls run rampant through the books and movies. They are other-worldly and ethereal. This example in particular reminded me of one of my favorite part of the movies: an animation sequence of a story that is told to Harry and Co.


Harry Potter influence: Whimsy

Harry Potter influence: Whimsy

While this example could also relate to the “badge” influence, there is a definite whimsical quality in both the artwork for the Harry Potter series as well as the writing itself. The Harry Potter story goes beyond just the typical doom and gloom, good vs. evil plot. JK Rowling successfully takes you on a journey where you meet up with the likes of the Weasley twins magical joke shop and flashbacks of Harry’s parents mischievous exploits among countless others. The books are above all a fun read, and fun to use as design inspiration.

Have you noticed a design somewhere that seems Harry Potter-esque? We’d love to see it. Share with us in the comments section below.

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July 20th, 2011 // //
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