By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘Beautiful and Graphically Brash Approaches’The American Institute of Graphic Arts—having long ago abandoned its name and gone simply with its acronym, AIGA—annually produces a round of international 50 winning book designs and 50 winning cover designs. The tradition was started in 1923 with book design, the cover design honors arriving later.
Entries for the winners announced on Wednesday (July 5) have come from 27 countries. And this is a competition dated to last year, as the eligibility criteria stipulated that entries must have been “published and used in the marketplace in 2022.” (The 2023 entry period will open in November and conclude in February.)
Speaking as the chair of the jury on its rationale for a dizzying 100 selections—from 487 submissions—Cranbrook Art Museum’s Andrew Satake Blauvelt says, “The jury and I were very impressed with both the quantity and quality of the entries this year, which made choosing only 50 extremely difficult.
“Having judged the competition before, I noticed a much greater diversity in the subject matter across all the categories, which was refreshing. This was apparent to me among the cookbooks for instance, which focused on diasporic cuisine or in the number of exhibition catalogues devoted to artists of color, for instance.
“The strongest covers really connected to the content of the book, while the book designs displayed a penchant for material choices that really emphasized the physicality or object quality of the book.
“Among the trending techniques this year were use of exposed bindings and elaborate page sequencing and mixed paper choices. For me, there was a greater overall sophistication in book design, with a mix of aesthetically beautiful and graphically brash approaches in the final choices. While print quality and craft were high, sometimes typographic detailing stumbled.”
Blauvelt was joined in the 2022 competition by four panelists.
Creative director Rob Giampietro; Renata Graw, founder of Chicago’s Normal design studio; Rhode Island School of Design’s Ramon Tejada; and Green Dragon Office art director Xiaoqing Wang.
For a news medium, a challenge of adequately recognizing the winners of the AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers program lies in the fact that the chosen volumes are presented only in a gallery, not—as far as we can detect—in a list.
While it’s absolutely logical that the winners need to be seen—meaning that the gallery makes good design sense—it’s journalistically just as logical that the presentation of 100 winners in any sort of visual format is impractical unless, perhaps, in a news medium devoted to the design trade.
Thus, we’ll simply highlight a very small number of winners, then, and direct you to the gallery in which the book- and cover-design winners are combined. The gallery is beautifully put together, featuring not only stills from the books’ interiors but also, where appropriate, video turn-throughs. If you have a few minutes, dip in anywhere, drop in on any one of these books, and enjoy.
Our selections here are entirely subjective. Descriptive project text, in quotes, is lightly edited strictly for our style.
- Designed by David Karwan
- Production Director: Karen Farquhar
- Design firm/agency: LACMA Graphic Design Department
- Publisher: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and DelMonico Books
- Author/editor: Edited with text by Leah Lehmbeck, Britt Salvesen, Vanessa R. Schwartz. Text by Brian R. Jacobson
- More credits: Lisa Gabrielle Mark, publisher; Claire Crighton, editor; Dawson Weber, rights and reproductions; Tricia Cochée and Sarah Applegate, administrative support; Echelon Color, Santa Monica, color separations
“City of Cinema: Paris 1850–1907 explores how film emerged in 19th-century Paris amid a burgeoning visual culture and against a backdrop of colonial expansion. The book traces how the city centered itself through film, while acknowledging the assumptions and stereotypes that were thereby instantiated.
“An array of posters, paintings, studio and documentary photography, and film stills demonstrates the medium’s unique interconnection of technology and art. City of Cinema highlights both local and global production and consumption, anticipating film’s evolution from an obscure entertainment to the most powerful art form of the twentieth century.”
- Art director: Rodrigo Corral
- Jacket cover designer: No Ideas
- Publisher: Astra House
- Author/editor: Farah Nayeri
“For centuries, art censorship has been a top-down phenomenon–kings, popes, and one-party states decided what was considered obscene, blasphemous, or politically deviant in art.
“Today, censorship can also happen from the bottom up, thanks to calls to action from organizers and social media campaigns. Artists and artworks are routinely taken to task for their insensitivity.
“For the design, we referenced historical and present-day censorship by pairing an 18th-century oil painting with Instagram’s ‘Sensitive Content’ interface to create a censored book cover.”
- Creative director: Jesvin Yeo
- Book designers: Alvin Ng and Jesvin Yeo
- Cover designer: Alvin Ng
- Illustrator: Quek Tengwan
- Photographer: Geoff Ang
- Visualizer: Jonathan Goh
- Design firm/agency: Designing Cultures Studio
- Publisher: Basheer Graphic Books
- Author/editor: Caroline Chia and Jesvin Yeo
Be sure to look at the video on this title’s gallery page. In it, you’ll see how the reader actually cuts her or his way into the book.
“Forgotten Heritage is a small project with big ambitions. This project is not just a collection of snapshots of artefacts from various forms of Chinese puppet theater; it is also a crucial first step in engaging the public with the puppet community and revitalizing a tradition that is in danger of being lost. It includes a book, a Web site, and a range of outreach activities such as workshops and exhibitions.
“The theme Forgotten Heritage presents a strong statement of an otherwise significant heritage that was once part of the daily life of Chinese immigrants and their descendants. Chinese puppetry has a rich history of more than a century and a diversity of theatrical forms that pertain to various regional dialect groups. However, despite this rich heritage, little is known or written about traditional Chinese puppetry in this island state. This project is an attempt to fill this gap by capturing the original fondness for traditional Chinese puppets, the fabrics, the embroidery, the song scripts, the props, and the backstage.
“The design of the book is itself a work of art. The layers of old-looking fabric with embroidery and a 100-year-old song script are designed as covers to present a tradition that has been here for hundreds of years. Through the process of cutting and uncovering, along with intricate illustrations and vivid photographs, the book takes readers through a century of history to uncover the treasures of this forgotten heritage.”
- Creative directors: Kai Damian Matthiesen, Herbert Lachmayer
- Art director: Jacqueline Burckhardt
- Book designer: Martina Brassel
- Cover designers: Kai Damian Matthiesen, Herbert Lachmayer
- Design firm/agency: Kai-Matthiesen.com
- Publisher: Edition Patrick Frey
- Author/editor: Jacqueline Burckhardt; Juri Steiner; Theres Abbt; Mirjam Fischerf
“The cover was designed by Kai Damian Matthiesen after several verbal and visual exchange sessions with Jacqueline Burckhardt. The technique of ‘aesthetic intelligence’ coined by Herbert Lachmayer was used to create a wallpaper and repeat pattern. The wallpaper encompasses key figures and central ideas of her 40-year career in art. Jacqueline Burckhardt approaches art from many different angles: as a former restorer of artworks, as an art historian, as the initiator of the performance art program at the Kunsthaus Zürich, and as a co-editor of the art magazine Parkett to name a few.
“The key figures featured on the cover include herself Jacqueline Burckhardt, the artist Laurie Anderson, architectural historian Kurt W. Forster, the 16th-century artist Giulio Romano, artist Katharina Fritsch, writer Juri Steiner, cultural philosopher Herbert Lachmayer, and artist Pipilotti Rist as well as tools from her restoration work. The figures are overlayed with agate stone details from the artist Sigmar Polke’s Grossmünster windows in Zurich to illustrate the metaphysical nature of art.”