Classic Album covers : Rio - Duran Duran

Rio was Duran Duran’s second album released on 10 May 1982. It saw Duran Duran go from a popular band in the UK to an international phenonomen. It wasn’t always the case though - for several months, especially in the US, the sleeve for Rio was more widely recognised than the band or their music

The sleeve was a joint effort by British graphic designer Malcolm Garrett and American illustrator Patrick Nagel. Nagel was already well known for easily recogniseable ‘Eighties Woman’ illustrations that combined the style of Japanese woodblock illustrations with Art Noveau and Art deco and which regularly appeared in Playboy and other magazines. In his Rio illustration, especially commissioned for the artwork, Nagel captures brilliantly a look that not only screams 1982 but also says New Romantics and Duran Duran. With her perfect features, lipgloss, huge earrings and flowing clothes, the Rio in the illustration could easily have stepped straight out of a Duran Duran video

But the sleeve isn’t just about the illustration; Garrett’s design work brings the whole thing together unifying the band’s name, album title and photography to complete the packaging. In the design he uses colours that complement the illustration and uses his trademark bold lines which in this design echo the lines in Nagel’s work

In the bottom right hand corner of the sleeve, Garrett created a small tab which wraps around onto the back cover to form a seal. An eye icon sits either side of a D (presumably standing for Duran) and rather cleverly the words ‘Assorted Images’ - making his own company’s name part of the design itself

Although everything (including the terrible combination of Roman and Italic characters in the band member’s names on the sleevenotes shouts of 1982, Duran Duran’s Rio sleeve still makes for an incredibly eye catching sleeve today

Sadly Patrick Nagel died from a heart attack in 1984 aged only 39. Garrett, who had been to school and art college with Peter Saville (of Joy Division and New Order design fame) and who had previously worked alongside album sleeve design icon Barney Bubbles, went onto design for Culture Club, Simple Minds and Peter Gabriel among others. He was one of the first to ditch the traditional tools of the graphic designer for a computer. He still works in and writes about design today

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