Winners of the 2020 Student Design Award revealed

The winners were chosen from over 2,000 entries redesigning the covers of three bestselling books.

Winners of the 2020 Student Design Award

Penguin Random House UK today has revealed the winners of its 2020 Student Design Award, with students from Glasgow School of Art, Central Saint Martins and Kingston University taking the top prizes.

The Student Design Award, now in its fourteenth year, aims to find the next generation of book cover designers by giving students the opportunity to experience real cover design briefs first-hand. The competition sees students reimagine iconic book covers across the award’s three categories: Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction and Children’s.

The winning designs were chosen from over 2,000 entries:

Adult Fiction Cover Award (The Night Manager by John le Carré)

  • First place: Annie Kobyluch, Glasgow School of Art
  • Second place: Olivia McEwan Hill, Leeds Arts University
  • Third place: Alissa Morgan, York St John University
The Night Manager cover design by Annie Kobyluch
From L-R: Olivia McEwan Hill (2nd), Annie Kobyluch (1st), Alissa Morgan (3rd)

Talking about the concept behind their design, winner Annie said:

"When starting my design I knew that I wanted the weapon to be the main focus. My concept was to incorporate this into objects which are naturally and almost exclusively associated with a hotel environment. The do not disturb signs found on door handles are synonymous with hotels and this then became the perfect object to have hanging off the barrel of a gun. My colour palette was intentionally simplified to add strength to the image and not provide a distraction to the visual concept."

Fiction guest judge Eliza Williams said:

"Annie Kobyluch’s mix of a strong design concept and striking use of visuals and colour made her work really stand out.”

Guest judge Millie Marotta added:

“There’s a real strength in the simplicity of the winning entry, its message is loud and clear – the viewer is in no doubt that this is a thriller. The clean graphic style and limited colour palette deliver a striking and unforgettable cover, one that really packs a punch.”


Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award (A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson)

  • First place: Megan Glover, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Second place: Allana Friedrich, Middlesex University
  • Third place: Kael Crozier, Leeds Arts University
A Short History of Nearly Everything cover design by Megan Glover
From L-R: Allana Friedrich (2nd), Megan Glover (1st), Kael Crozier (3rd)

Talking about the concept behind their design, winner Megan said:

"While reading the book I was struck by the analogies and facts Bryson used to explain complex theories and findings. So, when Bryson mentioned that bananas share more than half of their DNA with humans, I knew that was what I wanted to focus on. My design is not what you would expect a science book to have on its front cover. It’s a banana. But because of its simplicity I was able to turn it into a quirky abstract piece that makes the potential reader ever more curious."

Non-Fiction guest judge Neil Gower said:

“A good combination of being audacious but also conveying something essential about the book. It caught my eye immediately when I saw the shortlist, a worthy winner.

Guest judge Yehrin Tong added:

“As one of the boldest covers, this immediately stood out for me. The light-hearted pop aesthetic reflects the easily digestible and often humorous approach of the book.”


Children’s Cover Award (Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian)

  • First place: Chi Park, Kingston University
  • Second place: Beatrice Simpkiss, Arts University Bournemouth
  • Third place: Adriena Fong, Falmouth University
Goodnight Mister Tom cover design by Chi Park
From L-R: Beatrice Simpkiss (2nd), Chi Park (1st), Adriena Fong (3rd)

Talking about the concept behind their design, winner Chi said:

'In this cover design, watercolour paint is used to set a particular restrained tone that evokes the dark war-time era, at the same still convey warm nostalgia through the texture. The characters are walking "into" a space where several visual elements of the narrative hint to what lies ahead of them and the audience who follows them behind.' 

Children's guest judge Jamie Littler said:

“Chi's illustration is beautiful. The watercolour/ink illustrations, all providing little snippets and clues from within the story, have been so delicately rendered, too, it's a joy to look at!”

Michelle Magorian, author of Goodnight Mister Tom, added:

"Chi Park’s winning book design reveals the growing relationship between Tom and William them as they walk together under a war ridden sky.

I am delighted, and so would Tom and William be, that this design award exists to highlight the talent of these wonderful artists. It also reminds us that there is more than one way to tell a story."

The winner of each category will receive £1,000 in prize money, while those in second and third place will receive a £500 cash prize and a £350 cash prize respectively.

The winners were selected from a shortlist of 30 designs (10 in each category) by three judging panels; consisting of Art Directors from across Penguin Random House UK as well as guest judges from the design and publishing industry, this year comprising: Eliza Williams, Editor of Creative Review; graphic artist Neil Gower; author and illustrator Jamie Littler; and illustrators Millie Marotta, Yehrin Tong and Sarah Horne.

Commenting on this year’s three winners, Richard Ogle, Art Director, Transworld, said:

“The winning designs perfectly showcase the wide landscape of creative approaches in cover design. Each winner uniquely executed the themes and feel of each title; with illustration, typography and colour seamlessly coming together to draw a reader into picking up the book. Congratulations to Chi, Megan and Annie, and thank you to the whole shortlist for sharing their vision, style and talent. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.”

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more