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Best Finnish book design 2003


The Best Designed Book of the Year 2004 and the Distinguished Books Selection

The Finnish Book Arts Committee has awarded the prizes for the finest books of the previous year for the 59th time. Of all the books printed in 2004, the Finnish Book Arts Committee received a total of 208 books from 55 publishers and 28 of these also competed for the Best Book Jacket award.The Committee nominated 24 books by 14 different publishers for the Distinguished Books Selection, and gave anHonourableMention to 5 books for their respective jackets. In addition, one series of books received a Special Mention for its successful design.

The objective of the Finnish Book Arts Committee is to find books that combine external appearance and content in the best possible manner. The Committee particularly focuses onemphasisingthe overall attributes of basic graphic design, typographic characteristics, materials and printing quality, but finds it equally important to consider new and unusual ideas as well as to encourage designers to take up fresh and innovative approaches. The Distinguished Books Selection also displays Finnish books in the international context at the Frankfurt and Leipzig book fairs. Furthermore, the Distinguished Books Selection is exhibited in Sweden and Estonia.

The Distinguished Books Selection for 2004 features – perhaps more so than in the previous years – books that boast daringness, experimentalism and bold choices. The design of many of these books speaks of contemplation of the relationship between illustration and typography or of combining them in an unprejudiced manner. Once again, numerous stylish and handsome books whose design, materials and printing represent reliable and impeccable high-quality workmanship have had to be left outside of the selection.

Generally speaking, books published in the last year were of high-quality appearance and no badly designed or produced books were submitted to the jury. The task of the jury is almost impossible, as books that represent totally opposite genres and styles cannot really be set in order of superiority. It is nevertheless possible to select works that have special merits.

For example, ”Kekkonen” by Matti Hagelberg is not just a comic book but also a captivating work of art, created with an amazing sense of style and technique. The “Mitä tehtäis?” guide for nursery rhymes, singsongs and games is an example of a magnificent cultural deed by a small publishing house. The book is an enormous source of information, dominated by the skilled and personal touch of the graphic illustrator. The colours of the photographs in ”Archipelago” by Pentti Sammallahti delight the eye. How is it possible for an astonishing, spectacular picture book to be of such small size? "Asuuko neiti Töölössä?" is a stunning picture book also with respect to its size. The plentiful material has been compiled into a stylish visual concept, combining information, experiences, nostalgia and humour.

The textbooks that made it to the selection were of straightforward composition supported by consistent, personal and uniform illustrations.

The three amusing cover options for the ”Lakua" book represent such luscious luxury that is rarely offered in our country.

There were plenty of children’s books to choose from this year. The Distinguished Books Selection featured an extremely wide variety of books, which all combine skilled illustration and stylish typography that complement each other and support the contents of the text in an enormously captivating manner.

The Best Designed Book of the year is a children’s book, which in itself makes a welcome change from the choices of the previous years. This book is characterised by its magnificent illustrations. At its very heart it is suitably orthodox and traditional for its style.


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