On May 25, 2011, Oprah Winfrey ended the incredible 25-year run of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” the television program that inspired millions of people around the world and made her a cultural icon. Pentagram has designed The Oprah Winfrey Show: Reflections on an American Legacy, a new commemorative book that celebrates the show and its impact, published by Abrams.
The book was designed to function as both elegant homage and pop-culture keepsake. The book combines a compelling narrative of the program’s history with 150 archival photographs and essays, testimonials and remembrances by notable personalities about the importance of Winfrey’s work in various social issues. Contributors to the book include Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Elie Wiesel, Bono, Ellen DeGeneres and Julia Roberts; alongside figures from Winfrey’s talk show, such as Dr. Phil McGraw and Dr. Mehmet Oz. The design deftly weaves all these elements together with a grace and clarity of composition that reflects one the most influential and beloved figures of our time.
The designers worked closely with editors from Abrams and Harpo, Winfrey’s production company, to curate the quarter-century’s worth of material for the book. Rather than serve as a decorous memorial, the book is meant to be lively and engaging, with colorful content and a highly readable text by the writer and cultural historian Deborah Davis. The designers devised a flexible structure that showcases the content as varied, cogent and clear across the book’s 240 pages.
The book opens with a series of journalistic, full-bleed images of Winfrey and her crew preparing for the show. Celebrity essays have been integrated with the narrative, which combines a show chronology with a look at the many important social issues addressed during its run. The book is illustrated with images of iconic moments from pivotal episodes, including favorite guests and signature segments like “Oprah’s Favorite Things,” when audience members received a free car. (Care was taken to find proper photographs, and not use images from video clips.) For a section on “Oprah’s Book Club,” the special episodes that instantly catapulted books onto bestseller lists, the designers created a shelf-like timeline of the selected titles. The book closes as it opened, this time with a series of photographs of the taping of Winfrey’s final shows.
The cover features a dramatic, regal portrait of Winfrey by Ruven Afanador that captures her beauty and status as an icon. Book sections have been separated with glossy, bronze-colored papers that combine a sense of pop and luxury. The Graphik family of typefaces are used for the main titles, body copy and captions, while Gloriola Thin is used for the quotes.