The Finnish Book Art Committee has selected the Most Beautiful Books of 2020. Immortal by photographer Maija Tammi and graphic designer Ville Tietäväinen was selected as one of the most beautiful art and photography books. Art as We Don’t Know It, designed by graphic designer Safa Hovinen and edited by Erich Berger, Kasperi Mäki-Reinikka, Kira O´Reilly and Helena Sederholm was selected as one of the most beautiful non-fiction and text books. Both books were published by Aalto ARTS Books.
Aalto ARTS Books invests in visual design, because it’s seen as an integral part of a book and its content.
'Visual design is not only surface, but also a message in itself. Well-designed book is a treasure to its owner: it sparks interest in what the book is about, and you want to return to it again and again', publishing manager Annu Ahonen remarks.
Overall, 25 books were awarded as the Most Beautiful Book for successful book design. The title of the Most Beautiful Book of 2020 was awarded to Ville Linna’s book Chasing Light – The archival photographs and drawings of Paavo Tynell designed by Antti Valta and published by Toivo publishing.
Recognition for the hybrid and coherent design
'The book resonates strongly with today’s themes. It is a hybrid, brilliantly combining science, art and visual storytelling', are some of the reasons for awarding Immortal. The book is about Cornelia Dulac, a biologist who has been missing since 2014, her inner world and her research into hydra, a biologically immortal freshwater polyp.
'Quality book design and thoughtful illustrations, and deep blue haptic cover lead you to a visually stunning journey to the everlasting questions about immortality and mortality', the jury states.
The design of the book on bioart Art as We Don’t Know It is complimented on how it brings together the book’s eclectic images and articles 'with consistent layout, airy typography and the use of the surprising spot color. – the bold use and repetition of metallic color - even in small texts - works perfectly', the jury states.
For Maija Tammi and Ville Tietäväinen, this is already their fourth recognition for the visual design of Immortal. 'We have done something right in a weird way', the pair rejoices. In December they were awarded the Edvard Richter price and earlier this year Immortal received the International Creative Media award. The artwork is also short listed in Vuoden Huiput 2020 competition.
Also in the Special books series two books involving Aalto's Visual Communications Design authors were awarded. Recognition was given to Maarit Mustonen's book /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/ designed by Arja Karhumaa and the No justice, no peace - Documents of the Black Lives Matter Demonstrations, Finland, June 2020, designed by master student Annika Leppäaho.
Even empty space is a conscious decision
According to Ville Tietäväinen, the biggest challenge in designing Immortal was to combine the different types of visual elements and storytelling into one coherent story. The authors wanted the book to be simultaneously easy to follow and unique.
It took a dash of daring and a bit of creativity to come up with the solution. The conventions of scientific publications were reimagined. Enlightenment era typography was applied for scientific and storytelling credibility. The book’s text – the main character’s notes – were divided in to spreads and paced with photographs and illustrations which leave the pages with a lot of empty space. It appears random but it is in fact a conscious decision.
'Book design is one of the most responsible tasks for a graphic designer, because at its best a book lives foreve',” says Tietäväinen.
Art as We Don’t Know It is a collection of articles and artworks from different researchers and artists that had to be stitched together into one coherent book. Graphic designer Safa Hovinen began his design work with the book’s template that took into consideration the theme of the content, the structure of the text and the nature of the images.
'With this project, the use of one main colour turned out to be important. I chose copper as the colour because it’s not only eye catching but it is also used in bioart', he says. 'My goal in book design is that the printed book is a beautiful item with a clear user interface. The front cover sets the mood and is a gateway to the content. I often design the cover at the end of the process.'
Despite the digital age, printed book is not going anywhere. A beautiful book stands the test of time.
Aalto ARTS Books is the publishing house of Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.