'Do Not Disturb'

Book Design

A book to showcase an intriguing collection.

Pentagram has designed ‘Do Not Disturb’, a book by Raoul Shah showcasing his extensive collection of hotel room door signs. Shah started his collection on a trip to New York in 1980—since then he has accumulated several hundred different examples as he travelled around the world with his family and for his job (as head of global PR firm Exposure). 

The humble ‘Do not Disturb’ sign often goes unnoticed, but each sign tells a story. Some have been liberated from the most iconic hotels in the world, with many marking significant events involving family and friends. Despite the small scale and restrictive format, an amazing variety of signs are showcased throughout the book’s extensive 352 pages.

Published to coincide with Exposure’s twenty-fifth anniversary, the hardback, linen-bound book features a subtle black-on-black embossed cover and a screen-printed spine. It comes with a fluoro orange ribbon bookmark, as well as tipped-in black and fluoro orange ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. An uppercase version of Fred Lambert’s bold 1963 typeface Compacta features throughout, with Neue Haas Grotesk used as a supplementary text face. 

High-quality paper stock has been used throughout the book, with a silver stock employed for both the introduction and for the index and colophon. Shah’s collection is displayed throughout the book on white backgrounds, and black spreads are used for contributions from Shah’s 48 invited ‘guests’. These include friends and associates from the worlds of art, design, music and fashion, whose personal ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign reveals something about each guest’s life and travels. Motifs taken from some of the signs also appear opposite on some of the spreads.

While some are very traditional examples within the book, many of the signs are more considered, with witty copyrighting, high production values and attractive design. Although considered a very minor part of a hotel’s overall brand identity, the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign represents a direct and quite intimate communication between the hotel and its guest. Putting so much care and attention into something which is often viewed as insignificant shows that the establishment values a personal touch and pays great attention to detail—both qualities which all the very best hotels excel at.

Domenic Lippa
Project team
Josh Geoghegan Deo
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