About the year 2017

The Most Beautiful Swiss Books (June 2015), Photography: Guadalupe Ruiz © FOC, Bern
The Most Beautiful Swiss Books

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.