Thoughts on a Book
The Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2010

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. An internationally staffed jury, currently chaired by Manuel Krebs, selects the most beautiful Swiss books each year.

The awarded books become part of an exhibition which travels to various cities around the world. When the books stop off in London this November, they will be exhibited at the ‘Thoughts on a Book’ event at St Bride Library.

The event includes an evening of talks. Speakers include: Brian Dillon, Will Holder, Stewart Home, Justin McGuirk, John Morgan and Pieternel Vermoortel. The discussion is chaired by critic and design historian David Crowley, and accompanied by a special film about the books, made by MA Critical Writing in Art and Design students from the Royal College of Art.

Typographer Will Holder once read that oral tradition would lead us out of the post-modern condition, and has since become preoccupied with ‘publishing’. Said publications may not always take the form of ink and paper, and a large part of the preoccupation is spent in finding suitable ‘forms’ which scrutinise a linguistic means of representation. Holder is editor of F.R.DAVID, a journal concerned with reading and writing in the arts (published by de Appel, Amsterdam). In May 2009, he co-curated TalkShow at the ICA – an exhibition / events programme dealing with speech and accountability. He is currently editing (with Alex Waterman) a biography of American composer Robert Ashley, for four or more voices (forthcoming); and rewriting William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1876) into a serially published guide for design education and practice – set in 2135.
Brian Dillon is Tutor in Critical Writing in Art & Design at the Royal College of Art. He is the editor of Ruins (MIT Press/Whitechapel Gallery, 2011) and author of Sanctuary (Sternberg Press, 2011), Tormented Hope (Penguin, 2009) and In the Dark Room (Penguin, 2005). Culture & Curiosity, a collection of his essays on art and literature, will be published by Sternberg Press in 2012, and Blown All to Nothing by Penguin in 2013. He is UK editor of Cabinet, a quarterly magazine of art and culture based in New York.
Stewart Home has been a cultural activist since the late-1970s — starting with punk bands and fanzines and moving on to gallery exhibitions, live art and commercial publication in the 1980s and beyond. He is the author of thirteen published novels, one collection of short stories, six works of non-fiction and the editor of various anthologies. His most recent solo exhibition was Again A Time Machine at White Columns in New York (October/November 2011). His last novel was Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie (Book Works, London 2010).
Justin McGuirk is a journalist, critic and editor. He is the design critic of The Guardian newspaper and publishing director of the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow. He is also the former
editor of Icon, the international architecture and design magazine, and is currently
working on a book about activist architecture in Latin America.
John Morgan established his eponymous design studio in 2000. His projects have included prayer books for the Church of England, graphic identity for David Chipperfield Architects, exhibition design for the Design Museum, and the Four Corners Familiars series, a re-imagining of classic books like Dracula and The Picture of Dorian Gray. He has written for a number of journals including Dot Dot Dot and AA Files; has taught in various design schools, among them Central St Martins and ECAL Switzerland, and is currently a visiting tutor for the MA Book Design at The University of Reading.
Pieternel Vermoortel, is an independent curator and writer. She is co-director of FormContent, a curatorial initiative that currently works on the nomadic programme It’s moving from I to It. Among her recent projects are: The Responsive Subject (Mu.Zee, Oostend), The young people visiting our ruins see nothing but a style (Turin, Italy), And Yet It Moves (Guarene, Italy). She has written for various art magazines and edited several publications including: The Responsive Subject, Out of the Studio and Danger to fall in the sea. She has lectured at HISK Ghent, Sint-Lukas Brussels and Goldsmiths and Royal College, London.
David Crowley is a professor at the Critical Writing in Art & Design programme at the Royal College of Art. He has a specialist interest in critical and speculative design practices, as well as the operations of the media. He writes regularly for the design press and curates exhibitions. (most recently Cold War Modern at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2008 – 2009)

Students from the MA Critical Writing programme at the Royal College of Art were asked to produced a two minute voice over while the awarded books were flicked through.

Voice over by Alice Hattrick, Iris Long, Alice Butler, Patrick Langley, Caroline Stofer, Sarah Jury, Naomi Pearce, Tom Harrad, Rio Jade Ali, Jamie Sutcliffe, Susannah Worth, Alexander Rawlins and Joseph Taylor McRae.

  • Film by Kellenberger–White
  • Edited by Houman Momtazian
14 Dec, 2011
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