Bronze Medal Czech republic
Bonjour, Monsieur, Gauguin
Design: 20YY Designers (Petr Bosák, Robert Jansa, Adam Macháček)
Printer: H.R.G., Litomyšl
Publisher: Národní galerie v Praze (National Gallery Prague)
Strong contrasts from matt white and glossy black embossed, thick capitals create a striking cover. The words of the book’s title are stacked on top of each other three times. Small dot-like holes punched into the letters lend ornamental accents to their chunkily edged contours, behind which the austere Brittany coastal landscape spreads out in a historical black-and white photograph: this exhibition catalogue on Czech artists in Brittany between 1850 and 1950 documents the cultural connections between eastern and western Europe. On the inside, a series of pages with historical photographs — landscapes, harbours, people — on earthy brown paper prepares the reader for the book’s content. Similar sections in the middle of the book and at the end maintain this atmosphere. It is unusual that the essay texts are only printed on the right-hand pages, and only these have been given page numbers. On the image pages — well-structured and varied, orientation is provided by the picture numbering. In order to differentiate between image references and notes in the text, hairline frames with the height of a capital letter have been added: these are noticeable without being distracting. The block-like aura is also expressed in the book’s edge, meticulously narrow and produced by the skilled bookbinding. It clarifies that the missing headband is not an error, but rather intentional design that aims to avoid watering down the block quality generated by the straight spine.
Printer: Göteborgstryckeriet, Mölndalonen
Publisher: Livraison Books, Stockholm
If your eyes need a rest from the plethora of attractions in a sophisticated metropolis, and focus on what is happening on the peripheries instead, unexpected themes move silently into your field of awareness. This is what Norwegian photographer Ola Rindal seems to have experienced in Paris, his adopted home, when — once established in the world of fashion and magazines and thus susceptible to the beautiful things in life — he gradually directed his lens to capture the sidelines as well. The elements that preoccupy Ola Rindal there, or perhaps also impress or sometimes fascinate, on the fringes of public space — a strangely shaped piece of material, a person huddling on a park bench, the foamy trail of washing water sploshed across the pavement —, all this is grouped in a large-format, illustrated book.
Strong matt paper, almost paperboard, bears the double-page photographs with very high-resolution printing, framed on all sides by a narrow paper margin. The portrait formats run into the spine on one side and are faced by a blank page. These disconcerting, sobering and equally poetic moments grant the photographer and also the observer greater insight into the reality of the city. The absence of glamour appears to be a prerequisite for recognising the commonplace and also the aesthetics of the mundane — acknowledging what is there, what is all around us, devoid of retouching for any lifestyle. This is another way of saluting the city of love, sealed with the French tricolour as a ribbon bookmark.
Bronze MedalThe Netherlands
Design: Teun van der Heijden
Printer: Robstolk®, Amsterdam
A visual bird call: the enchanting, gold-embossed silhouette of a bird on the curry-coloured fabric cover. This book follows the migration history of a member of the starling family. A short booklet between the endpaper provides an explanation. The Javan mynah is actually a talented songbird that can even imitate the human voice. Once cherished and imported to Europe and Singapore for its singing talents, now it only squawks there to be heard above the urban hubbub. As time passes, however, the mynah is gradually being vilified, hunted, pursued and attacked.
The photographer Anaïs López uses these correlations to tell the fate of this specific bird — an allegory of the current global relevance of social migration. In a collection of pictures with vivid graphics, she alternates between street photography and comic strips, documentary newspaper cuttings and poetic screen printing, shining in gold on dark olive-green paper. In Myanmar the mynah finally finds a new home and a sacred mission: as a messenger between humankind and heaven. On the last, yellow pages of the book, the religious ritual is observed step by step with the bird soaring up into the air out of the believer’s hand, bearing their personal wishes. And indeed: right at the end — when you turn over the endpaper at the back — a delicate pop-up unfolds into three mynahs preparing to take to the air. A political book?
Katharina Schwarz in co-operation with Ellen von den Driesch
Design: Katharina Schwarz
Printer: Magentur Gesellschaft für Kommunikation und Medien mbH, Buch- und Offsetdruckerei H. Heenemann GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin
Publisher: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, UDK Berlin
What looks like sharp-edged white embossing on the jacket is in actual fact cut-out strips. In the places where they don’t stick perfectly to the endpaper, the paperboard “bridges” cast shadows. On the inside you soon encounter a long series of pages whose sheets are riddled with holes over almost the entire surface, in regular rows. This is the first of many diagrams in this study on suicide. The diagrams have extremely reduced text and graphics, seemingly simple. The keywords are printed on the very robust, warm light-grey paper in two colours, black and white (the white is printed twice to achieve the necessary coverage). The statistical values themselves are entered with a laser cutter. The graphs, bar charts and polygons in the diagrams fall out of the paper and are revealed to be empty spaces, air, absence. These rows of holes stand for the “Number of suicides in 2015 in Germany, according to age groups”. When graphics are used in this way, even sober statistics visualise strong emotions. Is this a nice book? It is certainly thought-provoking. You gulp more than once.
Art Studio Agrafka (Romana Romanyshyn, Andrii Lesiv)
Я так бачу [This Is How I See]
Design: Art Studio Agrafka (Romana Romanyshyn, Andrii Lesiv)
Printer: Unisoft, Kharkiv
Publisher: Видавництво Старого Лева (Old Lion Publishing)
This children’s book tells us about the scenes viewed by a girl in a flared skirt. She is dependent on her new pair of large glasses. An owl, the mascot of vision, accompanies her while she explores. On one of the most powerful double pages, some animal silhouettes — including goats, chameleons, sharks and blackbirds — “huddle” together to form a kind of puzzle. On the left-hand side at the top of the page, against its basic paper white, the sun is shining: aha, it’s daytime. Opposite on the right hand side, the crescent moon shines dimly above the full page of matt blue. Yellow dots, large, small, mostly in pairs, shine like eyes out of the blue night. Precisely — it is the eyes of the little animals on the left-hand side that linger in the same position. The girl declares: There are eyes that see better than mine. Even in the dark.
In other places the book becomes pedagogical, when the vision of bees, owls, horses, cats and dogs is compared, for example. Or even Braille — although not tangible, the letters are shown using signal red dots. The graphic, pictogram-like visual style of this book is impressive. The three special colours designed to highlight certain areas — variants of the primary colours blue, red and yellow — maintain their dominant independent existence. Here and there they are overprinted, fitting exactly over the top or overlapping; it is simply a pleasure to observe the whole diversity of shapes.