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Exhibition — 3 Oct until 1 Nov 2020

Every year, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Stichting De Best Verzorgde Boeken present the most outstanding book designs of the past year. This year’s selection comprises a remarkable number of books by or about artists.

  • Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
    Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
  • Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
    Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
  • Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
    Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
  • Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
    Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
  • Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
    Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
  • Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
    Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
  • Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
    Installation view The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij

A specialist panel chose 33 books from 287 submissions, basing their selection on design excellence, printing and binding techniques, and the collaboration between designer and client. The most outstanding designs were assessed by a jury consisting of Eelco van Welie (director nai010 publishers), Mijke Wondergem (designer), Martijn Kicken (advisor Drukkerij Tielen), Jeremy Jansen (designer) and Suzanna Héman (assistant curator Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam).

The jury noted that the continued trend for ‘exposed spines’, edge printing, image-only books with covers minus an image or typography, the use of semi-gloss coated paper for the images in contrast to the uncoated paper of the text sections, which are scattered like layers of fat throughout the book. Designers also play with translucent paper, allowing words to loom up through the pages, and images to reveal themselves in reverse to give a specific visual quality.

The 2019 selection includes two books that were awarded the Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt, the most important international graphic design contest held in Leipzig. The prize-winning designs are two photo books, both designed by Hans Gremmen and published by Fw: Books: American Origami by Andres Gonzalez, (Bronze Medal) and When Red Disappears by Elspeth Diederix (Honourable Mention).

The final selection features an exceptional number of books made by or about artists, such as Rembrandt x Rijksmuseum, designed by Irma Boom and published by the Rijksmuseum, the children's book A Dutch Liberation Story, conceived and illustrated by artist Brian Elstak in collaboration with Hedy Tjin and Julian Mostert, designed by Lyanne Tonk and published by ROSE stories and Stichting LovingDay.NL, and Where the River Runs about artist Remy Jungerman, designed by Mainstudio (Edwin van Gelder, Florian Schimanski), published by Jap Sam Books.

Other artists featured are Jean Michel Basquiat, Hadassah Emmerich, Michael Ashkin, Ide André, Maria Dabrowski, Reinoud Oudshoorn, Richard Prince, Henk Wildschut, Margaret Lansink, Vera Gulikers, Martijn van de Griendt, Karianne Bueno, Mariko Kuwahara, Chen Jhen, Katrin Korfmann and Jens Pfeifer.

Three books have connections with the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Two were made in conjunction with an exhibition: Welcome Today: Back To South Africa, designed by Jeremy Jansen, published by Paradox and Atlas Contact and Better Be Watching the Clouds / I Want to Be Able To Welcome My Father To My House, about artist Walid Raad, designed by Roger Willems, published by Roma Publications. Inge Meijer's book, The Plant Collection, about the history of plants in the Stedelijk Museum, also by Roma Publications, was also designed by Roger Willems, together with Dongyoung Lee.

The relationship between the Best Dutch Book Designs and the Stedelijk Museum stretches back many years. The first edition was presented in 1932 and, with a few exceptions, the Stedelijk has hosted the exhibition annually ever since. The Dutch Best Book Designs contest is the oldest annual competition of its kind in Europe that is judged by an expert jury. The exhibition is the first project overseen by Thomas Castro, the Stedelijk’s newly-appointed curator of Graphic Design.

The exhibition concept is designed by Paul Kuipers. Most of the books are on sale in the museum shop, along with the catalogue specially published for this exhibition, designed by Team Thursday (€ 31, ISBN 97890 5965 909 4).

The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019 is made possible in cooperation with Pictoright Amsterdam, paper provider Igepa, Tiel and L. van Heek Textiles. BNO has been a longterm partner of the museum.