About the year 2019

© BAK / Clément Lambelet

About the year 2019  

Every year, the FOC organises the competition "The most beautiful Swiss books". It honours outstanding achievements in the field of book design and production, with particular attention being paid to works that express contemporary trends. The 19 most beautiful books of the 2019 edition were awarded by the FOC on the recommendation of the five-member jury, chaired by graphic designer Gilles Gavillet. The books will be shown in an exhibition at the Helmhaus in Zurich from 3 to 6 September 2020 and will then be on display at other locations in Switzerland and abroad.


Gilles Gavillet, 1973 (chair of the jury)
was born in Lausanne and 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 (École cantonale d’art de Lausanne) since 2008.

Joost Grootens, 1971
Breda, works as a graphic designer in Amsterdam. A trained architect, he is passionate about design and founded the studio Joost Grootens in 1995. He is responsible for the Master Information Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Rory Mc Grath, 1981
London, works as a graphic designer and art director in London. In 2008 he co-founded the studio OK-RM and in 2015 the publishing house "InOtherWords". He is professor for exhibition design and staging at ISIA Urbino in Italy.

Marie Lusa, 1976
Porrentruy, works as a graphic designer in Zurich. In 2003 she founded the Marie Lusa studio and is its artistic director. She teaches at the ECAL as part of the Masters in Type Design.

Gesa Schneider, 1973
Gesa Schneider was born in Bonn. She has been director of the Literaturhaus Zurich since 2013 and was co-director of the Museum Strauhof from 2015 until 2018. 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 in Zurich between 2008 and 2013.


The competition "The Most Beautiful Swiss Books" is an instrument of the Federal Office of Culture that rewards the quality of book design in Switzerland and brings it closer to the public. The competition is open to exponents from the fields of design, publishing and printing. Every year, around 400 titles are submitted to the Federal Office of Culture. A five-member international jury selects the most beautiful Swiss books of each year from these entries. The competition records trends and identifies tendencies in contemporary book design and production, while at the same time creating a historical memory that goes back a long way.

What is a Swiss book?
A product is considered a Swiss book if it meets at least one of the following three criteria: The book was designed by a Swiss designer, the publishing house has its headquarters in Switzerland, or the printing house has its headquarters in Switzerland.

Criteria of the jury
The jury evaluates each entry in terms of its concept, graphic design and typography and pays particular attention to innovation and originality. Further criteria are the quality of the print and binding, the bookbinding processing and the materials used. The award is intended as a tribute and no cash prizes are awarded. There is no hierarchy of awards; all the most beautiful Swiss books chosen each year are treated equally.

Communication of the results
The jury's findings are published in a catalogue, which presents the award-winning books on the basis of the jury report. Furthermore, exhibitions of the award-winning books take place within Switzerland, as well as smaller exhibitions and presentations of the books abroad. Exhibitions and the catalogue give the award publicity and also support the exchange between exponents of the book design, printing and publishing industries.

The history of the competition
In 1998, the Federal Office of Culture (BAK) took over the organisation of the competition 'The most beautiful Swiss books' from the Swiss Booksellers and Publishers Association, which had been running the competition since 1943. The takeover was accompanied by a new strategic and content orientation which is still valid today. Only design and professional competence is decisive for jury membership, which means that greater emphasis is placed on the design aspect. With the opening up of competition to foreign countries, the production-related changes on the book market were taken into account.