Written by Gabby Manotoc

Featured image from Forty Days of Dating Website

It’s no secret that dating can be difficult if not awkward. With a new generation of people who are constantly plugged in to mobile devices, it’s easy to glaze over the faces around you in lieu of bright, well-composed pixels. Whatever opinion there may be about online dating, most can agree that traditional forms of courtship seem miles away. It’s even more difficult for the career-driven individuals who simply don’t feel they have time to spare to go out and look.

On July 10, 2013, Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman launched fortydaysofdating.com. As the name suggests, it chronicled their experiences of each day they were dating. The entire idea sprung from their opposite relationship problems. Jessica is a hopeless romantic, while Tim is a commitment-phobe. Both seeking to find love — or at least sort out their issues — they decided to exclusively date for 40 days. It’s been said that it takes 40 days to break a bad habit.

Both Goodman and Walsh are successful designers based in New York City. Walsh is a partner at world-renowned design firm Sagmeister & Walsh; Goodman has designed and illustrated for clients such as AirBnb, Google and The New Yorker. They both teach at the School of Visual Arts in New York as well. Thus, it was no surprise that the website had stunning art direction. Each day had two cover images by other designers that highlighted a key concept in that day’s blog entries.

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The designers have added a lot of extra content that reveal more about their past and what happened after the experiment.

Their story was funny and always brutally honest. It attracted a lot of readership, and less than two years after its initial launch, the designers are now authors. Abrams Publishing released a printed version of the book on January 20, 2015. Warner Brothers have also optioned the rights for a film version.

The book itself is everything and more a reader can ask for. It’s a coffee table book, a story book, an art book and even a scrapbook all bound into one. The art direction, hand lettering and illustrations are by Goodman and Walsh. The design was handled by Kevin Brainard and Raul Aguila.

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Handwritten notes in the margin reveal thoughts about the entries. It’s amusing to see different perspectives of the same situation.

The size of “40 Days of Dating: An Experiment” is big enough to showcase the beautifully designed interior and comfortably hold in both hands of an average adult. The saturated colors are bright and stimulating. Handwritten typographic treatments both provide a personal touch and speak to the strengths of the designers. This compliments the rest of the body copy which is set in a rounded sans serif typeface. It comes across as personable. Handwriting is used for section headings and comments in the margins that reveal their personal thoughts.

The book also has the advantage of allowing more room to play with format and visual elements (versus a computer screen). The authors have added more content about their pasts, relationship stories from family and friends, and even an informative timeline on the history of dating beginning with the book of Genesis. If that tells the reader anything, it’s that love is an inevitable, universal, human experience.

The experiment itself naturally takes up the most real estate. The layout is unusual as the page orientation changes. Readers need to flip the book sideways to read the story. This makes the entire experience very lighthearted and almost a little chaotic — a reflection of the 40 days.

Pictures bleed off the edges in a way that mimics the original website. In a way, it begs the reader to find out what happened next.

Original fans of the blog will be pleased to note the book does reveal what happened after the 40 days. The report of the couple’s therapist they saw during the time is published and so are various writings from their friends. Overall, it’s a visually stimulating and satisfying journey you can relive for the next four, 40 or 400 days to come.