Current Year

The Most Beautiful Swiss Books

`The Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2013`, Helmhaus Zürich, Photo: Oliver Sutter © BAK


'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 Manuel Krebs, 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 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.

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.


Manuel Krebs, 1970, Bern [Chair of the Jury]
Studied graphic design at the Schule für Gestaltung in Biel-Bienne. Established the graphic design studio NORM together with Dimitri Bruni in 1999, with a focus on designing and publishing books and typefaces. Book design includes self-commissioned research in the field of type and graphic design; commissions include numerous collaborations with museums (Tate Modern, Kunsthaus Zürich, Museum für Gestaltung Zürich) and artists (Fischli/Weiss, Simon Starling, Christian Marclay) – most recently, the nine-volume collection of David Weiss’s early works, ‘Nine Books, 1973–1979’. Examples for type design include the Simple typeface for Cologne airport (2003), the corporate typeface for Omega watches, the typeface Replica (2008) and the corporate identity and typeface for Swatch (2012). NORM was commissioned by SANAA to create the signage of the Louvre-Lens, which opened in late 2012. In 2005, NORM won first prize at the Swiss National Bank’s competition for the new banknote series. In 2011, NORM was awarded the Grand Prix Design by the Swiss Government.


David Bennewith, 1977, Takapuna (New Zealand)
A graphic designer and design researcher based in Amsterdam, David works on both research-oriented and commissioned projects under the name 'Colophon' – with particular interest and focus on the disciplines of type-design and typography. David is a professor in the Communication Design Department of the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe in Germany and also teaches typography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.


Sara De Bondt, 1977, Leuven (B)
Trained in graphic design at Sint-Lukas, Brussels and Jan van Eyck academie, Maastricht. Set up her own studio in London in 2005. The studio’s approach is research and idea driven, with strong emphasis on visual clarity and typographic detailing. It actively seeks out collaboration, both with its clients and colleagues, which has led to a wide range of projects from international clients such as Guggenheim, WIELS Brussels, Tate, ICA, V&A, Artissima Turin, Camden Arts Centre, Liverpool Biennial, Kunsthal Charlottenborg and others. Sara is a Visiting Professor at School of Arts, Ghent, and previously taught at Central Saint Martins School of Arts and Design and the Royal College of Art, London. In 2008, she founded Occasional Papers together with Antony Hudek.


Kurt Eckert, 1948, Aarau
Typesetter, Vorkurs, 'Form und Farbe' (F+F) in Zurich. Worked under Hans-Rudolf Lutz. Assistant to Peter Jenny at the design department of the architecture school at ETH Zurich. Teacher at the photography specialisation (1984–87); professor for design and typography at the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Zürich (1987–2013), now Zurich University of the Arts. Conducted the 'Typoklub' in said place, among others with Manuel Krebs and Marco Walser (2000–05), and ran the Master for Editorial Design, Development and Practice, together with Matthias Michel and others (2007–13). Alongside runs an own design practice, cooperations with architects, film makers, editors, artists, curators.


Markus Schmutz, 1964, Zurich
Bookseller since 1986. Specialized in art, design and architecture from 1994 onwards. Started his own bookshop Kunstgriff in Zurich in 1996, with an emphasis on contemporary art and photography.

Participating in the competition

At the end of January 2015, the most beautiful Swiss books of 2014 will be judged by the jury of the competition. The submission date for books from the year 2014 is Saturday, 10. January 2015 (postmark). Later submissions will not be considered. Applications for the competition can be submitted online from 1st november 2014 onwards:


The Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2013

Concept and design: Maximage, David Keshavjee, Julien Tavelli, Lausanne/Zurich
ISBN: 978-3-9524209-1-1
Texts: German, English, French, Italian
Publisher: Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Launch date: June 2014
Swiss distribution: Buchzentrum Olten
Distribution Germany, Austria: Verlag Hermann Schmidt Mainz,,
International distribution: Idea Books, Amsterdam,,