About the year 2021

© Clément Lambelet

About the year 2021

Every year, the FOC organises the “Most Beautiful Swiss Books” competition to honour outstanding achievements in the field of book design and production, with particular attention being paid to works that express contemporary trends. The 23 Most Beautiful Swiss Books of the 2021 edition were named by the FOC on the recommendation of the jury, whose members are Sereina Rothenberger (chair), Vela Arbutina, Gina Bucher, Joost Grootens and Gregor Huber. The award-winning books will be shown in an exhibition at the Helmhaus in Zurich from 23 to 26 June 2022 and will then be on display at other locations in Switzerland and abroad.


Sereina Rothenberger, 1981 (Chair of the jury)
Sereina Rothenberger was born in 1981 and has run the graphic design studio Hammer in Zurich since 2008, together with David Schatz. She held a professorship at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design from 2013 to 2019, latterly serving as a head of department. She has been teaching the Master programme in Graphic Design at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in the US since 2015 and has been joint head of the programme since 2020. She has also been an advisor at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht since 2020.

Vela Arbutina, 1978
Vela Arbutina was born in Zurich in 1978. She studied at Central Saint Martins in London and Gerrit Rietveld in Amsterdam and was art director of the fashion magazine Blend in Amsterdam. She then worked as a freelance designer with artists, galleries, designers, curators and institutions, including Christina Li, Adam Szymczyk, Cabaret Voltaire, the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, Ludlow 38, NGBK Berlin, Girls Like Us Magazine , Tanya Leighton and the Swiss Institute She has exhibited at the Kunsthaus Baselland and collaborated with PICA, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, in Australia.

Gina Bucher, 1978
Gina Bucher was born in 1978 and studied film sciences, media and art history. Since 2008 she has been working as a freelance editor for publications in the fields of art and culture, and is also an author of narrative non-fiction. From 2009 to 2018 she was head of programming at the taz congress in Berlin, and in 2009 she co-founded the design project Rokfor. She lectures at the F+F School of Art and Design Zurich and teaches creative writing at the young literature laboratory JULL.

Gregor Huber, 1978
Gregor Huber was born in 1978. He studied history and art history at the University of Zurich and then new media at the Zurich University of the Arts. He has been an editor and designer at the magazine Fabrikzeitung since 2007. In 2018 he founded the publishing house Edition Hors-Sujet, along with Ivan Sterzinger and Noha Mokhtar. He runs the studio Huber/Sterzinger together with Ivan Sterzinger. 

Joost Grootens, 1971
Joost Grootens was born in Breda, Netherlands, in 1971 and is a graphic designer, educator and researcher. Based in Amsterdam (NL) and Biel/Bienne (CH), his studio SJG designs books, maps, typefaces, spatial installations and digital information environments. Grootens is Professor of Artistic Research in Visual Design at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen, and head of the Master programme Information Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven.


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.