About the year 2017
The Swiss Federal Office of Culture organizes the competition ‘The Most Beautiful Swiss Books' on an annual basis. It thereby recognizes excellence in the field of book design and production, as well drawing attention to remarkable and contemporary books by Swiss designers, printers and publishers.
The five-member jury appraised all the submissions and selected 18 titles as the Most Beautiful Swiss Books of 2017.
The Most Beautiful Swiss Books of 2017 will be on display to the public at the Helmhaus Zurich from 21st to 24th June. The catalogue of this year's competition will be published at the same time. The winner of the Jan Tschichold Award will be honoured at the vernissage. Further events at the weekend will examine key issues related to the subject of books.
From autumn 2018, the "Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2017" exhibition will be presented at a series of locations in Switzerland. Each year, the award-winning books also travel abroad at the invitation of local institutions and events, with exhibition venues this time round including Copenhagen (Officin), Oslo (Grafill), Paris (Centre culturel suisse), Brussels (erg ─ école de recherche graphique et supérieure des arts), Vienna (Typographische Gesellschaft Austria) and Saint Petersboug.
Gilles Gavillet (chair of the jury) was born in Lausanne in 1973
is a graphic designer based in Geneva. He co-founded the Optimo type foundry in 1998 and was artistic director of art publishers JRP|Ringier from 2004 to 2015. He became artistic director of the annual Art Basel catalogue in 2013. Gilles Gavillet has been Professor of Visual Communication at ECAL Lausanne since 2008.
Joost Grootens was born in Breda in 1971
is a graphic designer based in Amsterdam. He trained as an architect and set up Studio Joost Grootens in 1995 after discovering a passion for design. He is head of the Master Information Design at Design Academy Eindhoven.
Rory McGrath was born in London in 1981
is a graphic designer and artistic director based in the city. He co-founded Studio OK-RM in 2008 and the InOtherWords imprint in 2015. He is a Professor of Exhibition Design and Spaces at ISIA Urbino in Italy.
Marie Lusa was born in Porrentruy in 1976
is a graphic designer based in Zurich. She has been artistic director of Studio Marie Lusa since founding it in 2003. She teaches the Master Type Design at ECAL in Lausanne.
Gesa Schneider was born in Bonn in 1973
She has been director of the Literaturhaus Zurich since 2013 and co-director of the Museum Strauhof since 2015. After completing her thesis on Kafka and photography she worked as a project manager for Heller Enterprises from 2006 to 2013. She taught image theory at the F+F School of Art and Media Design, Zurich between 2008 and 2013.
'The Most Beautiful Swiss Books' competition was established to promote and reward top-quality book design in Switzerland The competition is open to graphic designers, publishers and printers. Annually, the Federal Office of Culture receives around 400 submissions. A five-member, internationally staffed jury selects the most beautiful Swiss books each year. The competition charts current trends and tendencies in contemporary book design and production, while also looking back on a substantial and significant history.
What qualifies as a Swiss book?
A book is considered a Swiss book when it fulfils at least one of the following three criteria: the book was designed by a Swiss designer, the publisher has its headquarters in Switzerland, or the printer has its headquarters in Switzerland.
The judging criteria
In judging the submissions to the competition, the jury takes into account each book's overall concept, graphic design and typography, and pays particular attention to innovation and originality. Further criteria include the quality of the printing and the cover, the binding and the materials used. The award is conceived as a distinction and no prize money is conferred. There is no hierarchy among the prizewinning books.
Catalogue and exhibitions
The results of the jury's verdict are published annually in a catalogue, containing the jury reviews and various data on the prizewinning books. In addition, a number of exhibitions are mounted annually in Switzerland, while the books are also presented in several smaller exhibitions abroad. Catalogue and exhibitions not only lend the award greater visibility, they also promote the exchange of ideas among designers, printers and publishers.
History of the competition
In 1998, the Federal Office of Culture took over the coordination of 'The Most Beautiful Swiss Books' competition, which had previously been organized by the Swiss Association of Booksellers and Publishers. Since then, the competition has undergone a reassessment of its strategy and content, factors which still apply today. Since the professional and design expertise of the jury members has top priority, greater emphasis is therefore placed on the aspect of design. Taking into account globally changing conditions of production, the competition now allows for a more international outlook.