'The Most Beautiful Swiss Books' competition was established to promote and reward top-quality book design in Switzerland. It was established at the behest of the famous typographer and designer Jan Tschichold in 1943. 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, currently chaired by Cornel Windlin, selects the most beautiful Swiss books each year.
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 jury's 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 prize-winning 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 prize-winning 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.
Response to the competition
The competition has in fact become a seismograph of current trends and tendencies in contemporary book design and production, while also looking back on a substantial and significant history. The Most Beautiful Swiss Books also belong to the frontrunners in the international competition 'Best Book Design from all over the World' of the Stiftung Buchkunst in Leipzig, Germany. In February 2011, three Swiss books won a silver and bronze medal as well as an honourary diploma, which goes to prove the high quality and tradition of Swiss book design, which sets standards internationally and enjoys an excellent reputation.
The competition's history
In 1998 the Federal Office of Culture took on the coordination of 'The Most Beautiful Swiss Books' competition, which had previously been organised 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.
Participating to the competition
At the end of January 2011, the most beautiful Swiss books will be judged by the jury of the competition. The submission date for books from the year 2010 is Monday, 10. January 2011 (postmark). Later submissions will not be considered. The registration form for participation in the competition can be downloaded from this site. Please note: Do not submit books without the registration form.
Die schönsten Schweizer Bücher 2010
Les plus beaux livres suisses 2010
I più bei libri svizzeri 2010
The Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2010
Federal Office of Culture, Anisha Imhasly, Bern, Switzerland
Concept and design: Aude Lehmann
Photographies: Scheltens & Abbenes, Amsterdam
Order no. 10827895
Distribution Germany, Austria:
Verlag Hermann Schmidt Mainz,
Idea Books, Amsterdam,
Cornel Windlin, 1964, Küssnacht am Rigi [Chair of the Jury]
Trained in graphic design at the Schule für Gestaltung in Lucerne, then worked for six years in London, with Neville Brody and 'The Face' et al. Own studio in Zurich since 1993. Works for various cultural institutions and museums in Switzerland and abroad and is art director of the art magazine 'Tate Etc. ' in London and Schauspielhaus Zürich (2000-2002 and again from 2009). Co-founder of Lineto, a digital font foundry. He has been responsible for conceiving and designing the Vitra Home Collection catalogues since 2004.
Christoph Schifferli, 1950, Ascona
Studied sinology, economic history and computer science in Paris; earned a doctorate in Chinese economic history in 1980. From 1981, research assignments in Asia, as well as various commissions in the areas of publishing and technology; since 1983 active in the domains of multimedia and internet, with a special emphasis on the arts, culture and education. Collector of photography as well as art and photography books since the 1980s.
Lars Müller, 1955, Oslo (NO)
Designer and publisher. In 1982, he founded his studio for visual communication, Integral Lars Müller, in Baden, Switzerland, and he has been a partner of Integral Concept since 1996, an international association for transdisciplinary competence. Since 1985, he has taught regularly, most recently at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He has been active in publishing since 1983, with an international focus in the fields of architecture, design, art, photography, and society. Lars Müller is a Member of Alliance Graphique Internationale.
Linda van Deursen, 1961, Amsterdam (NL)
Trained in graphic design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Since 1986, she collaborates with Armand Mevis. Mevis & van Deursen have been working for cultural clients, producing the new identity of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam; the identity and publications for fashion duo Viktor & Rolf; and numerous books on art, architecture and design. Van Deursen is head of the graphic design department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and is a visiting professor at Yale University School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut.
Will Holder, 1969, Hatfield (UK)
Trained in typography, Will Holder's practice encompasses authorship, editorial, typesetting, photographic printing and distribution. He is editor of F.R.DAVID, a journal concerned with reading and writing in the arts, published by de Appel, Amsterdam, and is currently editing and designing a biography of American composer Robert Ashley in the form of musical notation (together with Alex Waterman), and rewriting William Morris' 'News from Nowhere (An epoch of rest)' (1876) into a guide for design education and practice set in 2135. In May 2009, Holder curated 'Talk Show' at the ICA, an exhibition and month-long event programme concerning speech and conversation as a model for production. He has been teaching at the Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam, since 1999, and ran the research project 'The Tomorrow Book' at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht. He lives in London.