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The Most Beautiful Swiss Books of the year 2005

Vitra. Select, arrange. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

1000 Peace Women. Across the Globe. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

2-Takt. Mofakult: Das Töfflibuch. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Andro Wekua. That would have been wonderful. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Bäuchlings auf Grün. Lyrik aus dem Kanton St. Gallen im 20. Jahrhundert. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Bruce Lee. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Cory Arcangel. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Formvollendet. Eine Sammlung ästhetischer, mathematisch definierter Formen. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Heidi Specker. Im Garten / Concrete. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Holocaust. Mahnmal Berlin. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Jules Spinatsch. Temporary Discomfort. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Linda Herzog. Birmingham Istanbul Zurich. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

London in Zurich. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Marco Paoluzzo. North / Nord. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Markus Raetz. Eben. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Monica Studer, Christoph van den Berg. Somewhere else is the same place. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Nedko Solakov. Leftovers. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Nicolas Faure. Paysage A / Landscape A. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Peter Fischli - David Weiss. Fotografias. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Platta Pussenta 2002-2006. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Play Pentagon. Das neue Fussballstadion auf dem Hardturm in Zürich. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Rembrandt. Die Radierungen aus der Sammlung Eberhard W. Kornfeld. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Renaissance et modernité du livre illustré. Ouvrages remarquables de la collection Jean Bonna. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Shahrzad. History. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Shirana Shahbazi. Accept the Expected. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Simon Starling. Cuttings. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Le spectacle dans la rue. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Statistisches Jahrbuch der Stadt Zürich 2005/2006. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Territoire Méditerranée. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Walter Boje. Geburtstag. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Wiebke Loeper. MOLL 31. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

Zoologische Miniaturen. Photography: Raphael Hefti
© FOC

About the awarded year

Mirjam Fischer

 

The 400 barrier for The most beautiful Swiss books was broken for the first time this year: 404 books were submitted for the competition. Once again it is clear that this competition run by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (BAK) arouses a great deal of interest in many ways, and generates a considerable response: last year’s catalogue attracted an extraordinary number of positive re-views in the specialist press, both at home and abroad.

 

The seven-man jury headed by François Rappo assessed the entries, as every year, in terms of concept, graphic design and typography, and then for print quality and the technical finish of the cover, binding function and the materials used. Originality and innovation are other important criteria. As well as the 32 commended books, the jury also chose a ‘Book of the Jury’. Here the choice fell unanimously on the sales and product catalogue Vitra.Select, arrange, a remarkable piece of design by Cornel Windlin for Vitra AG. The furniture is elaborately presented in many wonderful sets of pictures, obviously not just as a mere sales product, but in a most attractive and lively way as domestic objects that can be integrated into everyday life.

 

Every year the jury awards, independently of the books submitted for the competition, the Jan Tschichold Prize in memory of the typographer, whose proposal led to the inception of the Swiss book design competition in 1944. The Swiss Department of the Interior (EDI) enabled the jury to award this prize for the tenth time to an individual, a group or an institution for an outstanding book design achievement. The Jan Tschichold Prize, which is endowed with 15,000 francs, was awarded to Gavillet & Rust (Gilles Gavillet and David Rust) in Geneva. Here the jury was acknowledging a young design team from West Switzerland who have been convincingly drawing attention to themselves for several years with numerous book projects, especially for JRP publishers in Geneva and today in Zurich, and with their own typeface label Optimo. Together with Gavillet&Rust, Tania Prill & Alberto Vieceli, Zurich, Aude Lehmann, Zurich and Laurenz Brunner, Amsterdam were also nominated this year.

 

We are as always delighted with the awards won by Switzerland at the international The Most Beautiful Books in the World design competition in Leipzig. An international jury awarded one Golden Letter, one Gold Medal one, two silver medals, five bronze medals and diplomas, choosing from 636 books submitted by 34 countries. One of the bronze medals went to the Monica Studer, Christoph van den Berg. Somewhere else is the same place exhibition catalogue, designed by Iza Hren and Georg Rutishauser.

 

The catalogue by Laurent Benner (Reala) for The most beautiful Swiss books competition also caused an international stir last year. The design concept was so persuasive that the graphic designer and his team felt justified in developing the idea of a compilation of original pages further, and applying it in a new form. Light was to be thrown on specific aspects of book production even more than last year, making the publication entirely into an archival reference work and material book.

 

It is only thanks to the inspiring co-operation between graphic designer, printers, paper suppliers and the Burkhardt bindery that this year’s catalogue could be realized. Our thanks for their magnificent support (with material, work and ideas) go to the printers of all the winning books, the Burkhardt bindery, the paper firms Arctic Papers Schweiz AG, Antalis AG, Inapa Schweiz AG, Sihl+ Eika AG and Fischer Papier AG, and not least to the Odermatt printers. I am personally delighted that it was possible at a time of financial difficulty and despite all the prophecies of doom to realize a project like this, in which technical, communications and human expertise are demanded to an unusual extent, and to work together with such enthusiasm.

 

And now I wish you, dear readers, pleasure for all the senses in your trip through the most beautiful Swiss books of 2005.

Jan-Tschichold Award

Gavillet & Rust. Between the ecology of signs and re-housing Modernism
Lionel Bovier

 

I met Gilles Gavillet and David Rust in 1995 while I was teaching at the ECAL, Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne. In 1998 Gavillet went to Cornel Windlin in Zurich. Rust became professor of new media in the Visual Communication department, where he had also been a student. The Optimo project was already in place at this stage: a brochure announced it as a “website for a virtual type foundry, constructed like an organization with a complex organigram, a sound and image bank and a clothesline” (ECAL, Collection Produits no. 2, Lausanne 1998). The Optimo typeface label was intended above all to design and publish new fonts, but was at the same time launching a debate about the last vestiges of Modernism “as manifested in the principal communication models, in the principle of separating the ‘private’ and the ‘public’, in housing or in the utopias that were to be found here and there like erratic rocks in the socio-cultural environment” (ibid.). This also means that from the outset Optimo was interested in notions of originality and origin, practice and project, and less concerned with moving graphics, music or fashion forward as such, though these are things that interest Optimo in the more or less institutionalized spheres of culture or art, where it can benefit from the protected space they produce to generate projects, models or discussions suitable for a return to reality.

 

These questions stem directly from re-negotiating the territory between art and design, culture and industry that limited and defined the second half of the 1990s. This Design in an expanded field, to use the title of a series of discussions I have been leading since this time, corresponds perfectly with the option selected by Gavillet & Rust: without sacrificing anything of the particular quality of their métier, as can be seen from the fact that they specialize in typography, they make a particular claim to an artistic approach in the various projects they have realised. Thus for example in the catalogue for The most beautiful Swiss books 2000 (BAK, Gavillet & Windlin) or in commissions for the EPFL, for which Gavillet & Rust themselves engaged photographers like Armin Linke or Isabel Truniger. The works Across/Art/Suisse/1975-2000 (Skira/Le Seuil, Milan & Geneva 2001) and 25th International Biennial of Graphic Arts Ljubljana (JRP Editions, Geneva 2003) also show all the signs of addressing questions of iconography or the organization of editorial elements etc., in short, of a strong graphic project inseparably linked with editorial intentions.

 

Today the Optimo typeface label also uses other designers, and the fonts they sell have appeared in numerous magazines from Vogue Hommes to GQ Deutschland or Outside Magazine (Condé Nast), in publications or on posters.

 

When I founded JRP | Ringier in 2004, it therefore seemed obvious to me to engage Gavillet & Rust not just to create the company’s visual identity and its website etc., but also to define its editorial typologies.

 

At the Typecon 2003 conference in Minneapolis, Gavillet & Rust explained: “The world is written; still, it is necessary to be able to read it... Our everyday visual environment is literally strewn with words; from newspaper to food packaging; from utilitarian objects to clothes; from vehicles to buildings; people pass through a continuous forest of signs. Make no mistake — its permeability is only the other side of your own. By travelling through the everyday environment, everybody is pierced by these ‘bundled rays’ of trademarks, visual identities, imprints, and images. Typography is therefore present at all times and at all everyday locations. Being one of the primary means by which words are made, typography participates in the definition of an ambience, and of an exchange. By playing here on coincidence, there on rupture, on the evident or on the slippage of transparency or opacity, typography make fissures in the way a word functions.” This attention to everyday signs, reflecting about their use and their influence, perhaps shows most clearly how ambitious Gavillet & Rust are. Their language is a mixture of neo-modernity (more interested in macro than micro solutions, transparency, efficiency, problem-solving etc.) and postmodernist confrontation with the way the everyday world and design interact, oscillating between reintegrating and deconstructing the rules. Of course the Swiss context must be significant here, close to designers like Cornel Windlin or Norm, but parallels with current artistic practice can also be discerned (Cady Noland, Liam Gillick, Kelley Walker etc.). It could also be said that we are dealing here with a form of the ecology of modernist signs. If modernistic forms of the kind put forward by artists and theorists of postmodernism represent the height of capitalism, then here we are confronted with a simple alternative: rejecting this heritage as a whole, or appropriating its forms again. It seems that Gavillet & Rust have set off in the second direction: a way of re-housing modernism.