Michele De Lucchi reinterprets Harry Potter book covers as “archetypes of living”

Visualised for the 2021 Italian edition of the Harry Potter saga by Salani Editore, AMDL Circle’s inventive graphic design for its book covers puts architecture front and centre.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : May 19, 2021

An entire generation owes their fix of the childhood magic and their early fantasy trappings satiated to the Harry Potter saga. In fact, it would be fair to say that a million strong fandom of “potterheads” swear by it, still awaiting their letters of acceptance from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, having dissociated with their “muggle” lives, finding magic in JK Rowling’s fantastical saga of the boy who lived. The sense of imagination invoked by these books is unparalleled, not just in the spells, the potions, and the conflicts, but also in a distinct sense of place in the expansive world it creates. Within the books, the visual sense, a “style” of its architecture that prevailed was a cross between an English town and countryside castles, something that the immensely popular films too impressionably bolstered as a much more definitive visual image of these places. How then, do you “redefine” such an intergenerational, iconic sense of place? AMDL Circle and Michele De Lucchi propose going back to zero, and working with attributing a more symbolic value to our architecture, in a manner that allowed everyone to interpret it freely based on their own personal experiences. 

  • Architect and designer Michele De Lucchi with the redesigned Harry Potter book covers, featuring architecture designed by him | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Architect and designer Michele De Lucchi with the redesigned Harry Potter book covers, featuring architecture designed by him Image: Santi Caleca
  • The covers displayed at the exhibition at AMDL circle | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    The covers displayed at the exhibition at AMDL circle Image: Santi Caleca
  • Redesigned covers of ‘Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone’, ‘The Chamber of Secrets’, and ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Redesigned covers of ‘Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone’, ‘The Chamber of Secrets’, and ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ Image: Marco Menghi
  • Redesigned covers of ‘Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire’, and ‘The Order of the Phoenix’ | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Redesigned covers of ‘Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire’, and ‘The Order of the Phoenix’ Image: Marco Menghi
  • Redesigned covers of ‘Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince’, and ‘The Deathly Hallows’ | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Redesigned covers of ‘Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince’, and ‘The Deathly Hallows’ Image: Marco Menghi

“The covers are the result of a holistic and multidisciplinary perspective that intertwines a fantasy saga with contemporary architecture”, states an official release from AMDL circle. Citing the fantasy epic’s visual carousel as being “rich and tantalising” to the degree of it being crystallised in the audience’s eyes, proving to be one of their major challenges and considerations while redesigning the covers, the Italian multidisciplinary practice founded by De Lucchi worked its way through little room for reinterpretation. Drawing on the present design imagery of the studio and on real Italian architecture that seem to have a symbolic connection with the sites in the novels, the graphic redesigns create an additional layer of fantasy with a new definition, rooted in the existing.

  • Architect and designer Michele De Lucchi with the redesigned Harry Potter book covers, featuring architecture designed by him | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Abbazia 391 sculpture by Michel De Lucchi in walnut wood, 2016, along with the book cover, describing the Hogwarts castle’s inpiration from gothic “abbeys” of Tuscany and central Italy Image: Santi Caleca
  • Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, Abbazia 2016, pencil on paper | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, Abbazia 2016, pencil on paper Image: Michele De Lucchi, Courtesy of AMDL circle
  • Catasta 414 sculpture by Michel De Lucchi in walnut wood, 2017, along with the book cover for ‘The Chamber of Secrets’ focussed on the “burrow” | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Catasta 414 sculpture by Michel De Lucchi in walnut wood, 2017, along with the book cover for ‘The Chamber of Secrets’ focussed on the “burrow” Image: Santi Caleca
  • Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, Catasta 2017, pencil on paper | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, Catasta 2017, pencil on paper Image: Michele De Lucchi, Courtesy of AMDL circle

For the first book in the decade defining saga, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the cover reinterprets the Hogwarts castle as a solid and sturdy construction, anchored heavily to the ground, but reaching upwards through pointed spires in an act of increased momentum, pushing towards the sky. The inspiration for this almost sculptural edifice comes from the gothic abbeys of Tuscany and central Italy. For Chamber of Secrets, the Burrow, the Weasley family residence is reinterpreted as a stacked, shingled structure in wood, unreally balancing a pitched roof on top of its narrowing profile, strongly evocative of a sense of “architectural” magic, apart from harbouring a feeling of home, nurturing and protective. The eponymous Azkaban prison highlights the cover of ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ as a cold structure composed of cuboidal volumes with strong vertical striations, further adding to the imposition. The team and De Lucchi interpreted it as a “mythological construction” strongly reminiscent of the Hotel Medea in Batumi.

  • Catasta 414 sculpture by Michel De Lucchi in walnut wood, 2017, along with the book cover for ‘The Chamber of Secrets’ focussed on the “burrow” | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Model of Hotel Medea in Batumi by AMDL circle used as the inspiration for Azkaban prison on the cover of the third book Image: Santi Caleca
  • Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, study for Hotel Medea in Batumi, pencil on paper | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, study for Hotel Medea in Batumi, pencil on paper Image: Michele De Lucchi, courtesy of AMDL circle
  • Conceptual model of Expo Icona in walnut wood, 2012, by Michele De Lucchi along with the ‘Goblet of Fire’ to suggest a more transient form of stadium architecture | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Conceptual model of Expo Icona in walnut wood, 2012, by Michele De Lucchi along with the ‘Goblet of Fire’ to suggest a more transient form of stadium architecture Image: Santi Caleca
  • Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, study for the itinerant installation “Expo Icona”, 2012, pencil on paper | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, study for the itinerant installation “Expo Icona”, 2012, pencil on paper Image: Michele De Lucchi, courtesy of AMDL circle

There is now a noble thought that lies behind AMDL’s rethinking of the architectural icon representing the Goblet of Fire, the Quidditch arena that not only hosts the iconic game from Harry’s first year, but has immense signatory value for the entire school. The redesigned cover visualises the arena as a “travelling stadium”, seguing to the possibility of stadium architecture being more sustainable by virtue of disassembly and eventual reassembly. The tree like design seeks obvious inspiration from the pavilions at Icon Expo in Milano. Order of the Phoenix, contrary to its popular feature of the room of requirements, features Hagrid’s hut on the cover, as an architectural object that “blends into the surrounding nature and testifies to manual work”, comparing the modest dwelling to an inconspicuous haystack.

  • Pagliaio 324 sculpture by Michel De Lucchi in walnut wood, 2014, used as an interpretation of Hagrid’s hut on the cover of ‘Order of the Phoenix’ | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Pagliaio 324 sculpture by Michel De Lucchi in walnut wood, 2014, used as an interpretation of Hagrid’s hut on the cover of ‘Order of the Phoenix’ Image: Santi Caleca
  • Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, Pagliaio 2014, pencil on paper | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, Pagliaio 2014, pencil on paper Image: Michele De Lucchi, courtesy of AMDL circle
  • Study model for Cucchi-de Lucchi Tower, 2016, by AMDL Circle, as the infamous astronomy tower on the cover of ‘Half Blood Prince’ | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Study model for Cucchi-de Lucchi Tower, 2016, by AMDL Circle, as the infamous astronomy tower on the cover of ‘Half Blood Prince’ Image: Santi Caleca
  • Drawing by Michele De Lucchi for Cucchi-de Lucchi Tower, Arch&Art, 2016, pencil on paper | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Drawing by Michele De Lucchi for Cucchi-de Lucchi Tower, Arch&Art, 2016, pencil on paper Image: Michele De Lucchi, courtesy of AMDL circle

The Half Blood Prince finds its visual inspiration in a heart-breaking yet tragically iconic scene, the death of Dumbledore, following a killing curse from Snape atop the Astronomy tower. Cited to be Hogwarts’ highest point, AMDL’s interpretation for the towers comes from the Air Tower they built for the Arch&Art project at the Milan Triennale. In De Lucchi’s design though, despite the “fall” being the event to immortalise the structure in Harry Potter lore, the narrowing towers acquire a new meaning of reflection on man’s existence and transience by gazing upward.

  • Construction n. 5 sculpture by Michel De Lucchi in walnut wood, 2011, reinterpreting the iconic bridge from the battle of Hogwarts on the cover of ‘The Deathly Hallows’ | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Construction n. 5 sculpture by Michel De Lucchi in walnut wood, 2011, reinterpreting the iconic bridge from the battle of Hogwarts on the cover of ‘The Deathly Hallows’ Image: Santi Caleca
  • Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, study for Bridge of Peace in Tbilisi, 2010, pencil on paper | Harry Potter Book Covers | Michele De Lucchi/ AMDL Circle | STIRworld
    Drawing by Michele De Lucchi, study for Bridge of Peace in Tbilisi, 2010, pencil on paper Image: Michele De Lucchi, courtesy of AMDL circle

The final clash at Hogwarts and the culmination of the saga in The Deathly Hallows is also underlined by a bold choice in its architectural representation. Instead of the courtyard where a majority of the action and the final showdown takes place, De Lucchi chooses the bridge leading from the forbidden forest to Hogwarts that is destroyed during the battle. Terming bridges to be a very symbolic architecture, facilitating connection and cohesion between two points, AMDL’s reinterpretation of it is inspired from the sinusoidal Bridge of Peace’s profile in Tbilisi, also designed by De Lucchi. 

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