Behind the German 20th anniversary editions of the Harry Potter books

The Pottermore News Team

Carlsen Verlag
Carlsen Verlag

Many countries around the world have celebrated 20 years of Harry Potter this year. In Germany, they commemorated the big anniversary with these gorgeous new editions of all seven books – reimagined by Iacopo Bruno.

We love seeing all the many interpretations of the Harry Potter stories, and this year we’ve been treated to many, thanks to the first book reaching 20 years old in some parts of Europe, the US and beyond. (Us Brits got a head-start – celebrating its 20th anniversary of publication last year.)

Carlsen Verlag
Carlsen Verlag

In Germany, Iacopo Bruno, an Italian graphic artist and illustrator has worked on new covers for all seven Harry Potter books for German publisher Carlsen. As you can see, each book comes in a different warm colour, peppered with meticulous details from the cover to the spine. We chatted to Iacopo about his experiences working on such an iconic series.

‘I love getting lost in the richness of details, in the complexity of decorations, in using images to tell more about the characters, and in typographic research,’ Iacopo told us.

‘Illustrating the twentieth-anniversary editions of Harry Potter for Carlsen’s German readers gave me the opportunity to confront myself with the imagery created by J.K. Rowling – which is among the largest and richest I have ever met in my career.’

(c) Carlsen Verlag
(c) Carlsen Verlag

When it came to the minutiae of designing Harry Potter, the artist particularly enjoyed interpreting Hogwarts’ famous coat of arms, ‘experimenting with combinations of graphics’ for all four houses – and cited the first and last books as his favourite to design.

‘I think that with respect to my cover designs, I have two favourite books in the series. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, because it was the first book cover I designed, the one with which the entire project started. It was particularly exciting because for the first time my work brought me so close to the world of Harry Potter, which I had experienced and loved for years only in books and movies. I am very grateful to Carlsen for making this possible. The other volume to which I feel very connected is the last one: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.’

Based in Milan, Italy, Iacopo was naturally drawn to Italian artistry when designing the covers – but looked everywhere for inspiration.

‘I’m very attached to Italian graphic design, yet I’m also very attracted to Anglo-Saxon imagery. My research always draws from a universe of objects and images from past ages and countries: I consult the books that fill my library, the objects that I collect myself, and certainly also the infinite well of the internet.’

(c) Buchhandlung SchÅttert Syke
(c) Buchhandlung SchÅttert Syke

Of course, Germany celebrated the anniversary in myriad ways, including at Frankfurt Book Fair, where Carlsen attempted to set a new record for the most people dressed as Harry Potter at one event. Although they didn’t quite hit that particular mark, they did break the record for biggest fan gathering in Germany instead. Even Iacopo couldn’t help but join in.

‘I must confess that even though I am now older than half a century, on that occasion I wore the Gryffindor cloak and scarf with pleasure and pride!’

So, it’s been a Potter-tastic year for Germany indeed – with German publisher Carlsen also putting on three huge fan events across Hamburg, Berlin and Munich with live readings by German star Rufus Beck, one of the voices of the German Harry Potter audiobooks – collaborating with Audible, Der Hörverlag and our very own Pottermore Publishing.

Rufus Beck event
(c) Vincent Schaack

On top of all of the anniversary celebrations, we also got the news that the award-winning theatre production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be starting a new production in Hamburg, Germany in 2020. This is the first time the play, titled Harry Potter und das verwunschene Kind, will be performed in a language other than English.

So, the partying certainly never stops in Germany – and from all of us at Pottermore, we say... Danke für alles!