The Most Beautiful Swiss Books
The competition charts current trends and tendencies in contemporary book design and production, while also looking back on a substantial and significant history.
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.
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.
Géraldine Beck, 1988, Genève
Géraldine Beck works in the domain of selling and distributing books since 2008. She first worked for Motto Books in Berlin and then moved to Zurich where she opened her own company, BECKBOOKS. Today, she is based in Geneva, where she studies comparative literature and English. She runs the web-series BOOK TV, a project aimed at presenting diverse art book publications as seen by individual specialists. She undertakes various collaborations with artists such as exhibitions, events and publications. She is particularly interested in the circulation of ideas and the diffusion of printed material in the realm of the arts.
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.
Markus Dressen, 1971, Münster (Deutschland)
Markus Dressen is a graphic designer, publisher and professor based in Leipzig. He studied graphic design at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig under Hildegard Korger, Günter Karl Bose, Ruedi Baur and Volker Pfüller. Together with Anne König and Jan Wenzel he publishes the magazine 'Spector cut+paste' (since 2000), and co-founded the publishing house 'Spector Books' (since 2008). Admission into Alliance Graphique Internationale (2004). Professorship in graphic design at HGB Leipzig (since 2006). Book design for artists (Olaf Nicolai, Cyprien Gaillard, Tal R, Neo Rauch, Ilya Kabakov, Christine Hill, Ramon Haze). Creation of visual identities (Schauspiel Stuttgart, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig, Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen).
Kurt Eckert, 1948, Aarau (Switzerland)
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.
Participating in the competition
At the end of January 2016, the most beautiful Swiss books of 2015 will be judged by the jury of the competition. The submission date for books from the year 2015 is Monday, 14. December 2015 (post-mark). Later submissions will not be considered. Applications for the competition can be submitted on-line via the this platform:
Concept and design: Studio NOI, Simone Koller & Corina Neuenschwander, Zürich
Texts: German, English, French, Italian
Publisher: Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Launch date: June 2015
Swiss distribution: Edition Hochparterre,