Autumn 2007

Beauty and process

Les Plus Beaux Livres Suisses 2006

Swiss Federal Office of Culture

Les Plus Beaux Livres Suisses 2006 (Swiss Federal Office of Culture) is the third volume of the annual ‘Most beautiful Swiss books’ competition designed by Laurent Benner and Jonathan Hares, and continues their strategy of exploring the books by deconstructing them. For the 33 books selected by the jury we are given a series of comparative analyses: the covers reproduced together to the same scale, a tabular breakdown of the printers, bookbinders, papers and typefaces used and a page of technical details and jury comments on each publication. At the core of the book is an eight-page section printed on the paper stock of each original book. These sections, printed on everything from lightweight uncoated to high-gloss art, show every page of the book in reduced, thumbnail form and two sample pages reproduced at the book’s original size. The rigour of this system means that the smaller books float on the page, complete with trim marks, while the larger ones bleed off. At one level, bringing together such diverse elements is a production triumph; at another, the structure is a sophisticated form of book design that is about process rather than adding graphics that get in the way of the books.

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