Pink Floyd and Pentagram celebrate 50 years of Dark Side of The Moon
A new limited-edition box set honours the iconic Dark Side of The Moon album artwork. Pentagram Partners Harry Pearce and Jon Marshall and Hipgnosis founder Aubrey Powell explained how the concept came to life.
With sales of over 45 million copies worldwide, The Dark Side of The Moon was Pink Floyd's eighth studio album. Since its release on 1 March 1973, it has become one of the most highly acclaimed and biggest-selling albums of all time.
This month, Pink Floyd has released a new box set to celebrate the album's fiftieth anniversary, designed by Pentagram Partners Harry Pearce and Jon Marshall. The deluxe collectors' edition also includes a new hardback book featuring photographs by Jill Furmanovsky, Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey' Po' Powell.
The limited edition box set includes CD and gatefold vinyl of the new 2023 remastered The Dark Side of The Moon studio album and Blu-Ray + DVD audio featuring the original 5.1 mix and remastered stereo versions. The set also includes an additional new Blu-ray disc of Atmos mix, plus CD and LP of 'The Dark Side of The Moon – Live At Wembley Empire Pool, London, 1974', a 160-page hardback photo book, a music book, replica 7" singles and memorabilia.
The instantly recognisable sleeve for Dark Side of The Moon was originally designed by Storm Thorgerson of album cover art specialists Hipgnosis, with illustrations by George Hardie. Harry Pearce explained that this iconic prism design was the starting point for the new box set: "Picking up on the Hipgnosis theme of ancient Egypt and Pyramids, I thought about the wonderful sense of discovery that's built into the idea of a nested sarcophagus. The layers and layers reveal memorabilia and at the centre the original 'The Dark Side of The Moon' vinyl."
Pearce and Marshall opted to use Hipgnosis's original marked-up artwork for the' live' album cover. Pearce shared the thinking behind that decision: "Working with an existing design classic, it felt wholly wrong to create new conceptual imagery. More importantly, it was about honouring and complementing the original concept with an empathetic framework."
Hipgnosis' Aubrey 'Po' Powell explained how the collaboration came about: "For the 50th Anniversary of Pink Floyd's album, I needed a very special package. The familiar triangular prism image had run its course over five decades, and it was now time to reinvent."
"I turned to Harry Pearce and Jon Marshall at Pentagram with a brief to create a box, air lock tight and firm, to hold all the albums, memorabilia, and Blu Rays. However, the design had to hark back to something of the original idea", he adds. "They picked the Egyptian influence of the pyramids and the idea of a Sarcophagus. As you unwrapped the multi-layered packaging, the final delight was the inner gold box containing the first 'live' vinyl of 'The Dark Side of The Moon'."
Pentagram's Jon Marshall designed the three-dimensional elements of the project, creating the boxes which house each of the elements: To create a sense of discovery, different materials were used for each layer of the nested boxes, starting completely black with elements of gold being added, leading to the fully gold box in the middle which carries the original album and new live album.
Jon explains that this aspect of the project required great attention to detail: "Nesting several boxes together was technically challenging as multiple elements were interconnected and needed to fit together precisely. We did not want to use foam or plastic inserts. We solved the design through cardboard engineering with extensive prototyping and sampling, working very closely with Po, the record company, and the box set manufacturer."
There are subtle references to the pyramids throughout the box set, such as the angled cuts on the folder for the poster: "We developed many ideas on the way that helped us build the narrative even if we eventually ruled them out, such as including using a glass prism to recreate the original album cover and creating CD cases that could fold into pyramids."
The Official Pink Floyd 50th Anniversary book included in the box set is designed by Harry Pearce and published by Thames & Hudson. The hardback album-sized book combines striking layouts with rare and unseen images, including documentary photography taken by Jill Furmanovsky and the Hipgnosis team during Pink Floyd's album tours of 1972 to 1975, as well as shots of original album roughs and artwork by Hipgnosis and StormStudios.
Hipgnosis's Powell said: "The process over a series of months from a maquette to completed drawings and animatics was revelationary and highly professional, with Jon manipulating Harry's creative ideas into the completed, highly polished box set. It's a work of art."
Pentagram's Pearce and Marshall are both long-time fans of Pink Floyd and Hipgnosis, so the project had a special significance. "I discovered Pink Floyd as a teenager through the 1982 film The Wall directed by Alan Parker, and I listened to The Wall and The Dark Side of The Moon albums a lot while studying art in the late '80s," Marshall told Creative Boom. "I think I was equally attracted to Pink Floyd's music and their appreciation of art and design, exemplified by the many Hipgnosis album covers, so I felt very fortunate to be involved in this project."
Pearce, who has also collaborated with Pink Floyd and Hipgnosis in the past, added: "The sounds of this album echo through so many of my early teenage memories that it cannot help but be meaningful. Equally, as a young designer, that Hipgnosis cover was a big influence."