Eager and committed. I always notice these characteristics when I receive the students who have been nominated by their academies to participate in the Student Panel of The Best Dutch Book Designs. These traits are desperately needed in the book trade. After all, there is great concern about the future in the graphic industry. Especially because so few young people are interested in getting trained in the technical parts of the profession: lithography, binding and printing don’t appeal to them. The Dutch graphic industry is famous abroad for its qualities in the aforementioned areas, but if the knowledge and expertise can’t be passed on, what will happen then? Fortunately, things are going well in the design department : every year many students from the Netherlands and abroad want to be educated at the graphic arts departments of art academies and colleges. In addition, it seems that young people are more and more interested in arts and crafts: a lot of graphic design students are eager to know more about printing techniques such as risography and the various uses of different types of paper. The relevance or need to select a book as the main form to publish content is also subject of debate at the graphic design departments of the Dutch art academies. 

In 2016 the Best Dutch Book Designs saw an opportunity to create an exchange of ideas and experience between the next generation of book makers and the established order. A student panel was installed. They follow the same procedures as the professional panel, examining the books on a number of days and later spending two days arriving at their own final selection. This year 278 books were submitted, the student panel chose 30 books, the required minimum number (33 books is the max). The student panel too presents a report of their decisions. Both the selection and the judges’ report are being made available online (as an appendix to the Stichting’s website, www.bestverzorgdeboeken.nl) and in a catalogue. 

One of the elements that makes the student panel very interesting is the mixture of different backgrounds. First you have differences in teaching at the separate academies, different ways of thinking about design. Secondly, the backgrounds of the students themselves differ, not in the least because they come from different countries (this year: Poland, UK, Japan and the Netherlands). The results were heated and passionate discussions.

I present you the Studentjury of 2020: Ada Popovic (Royal Academy of Art, The Hague), Ben McMillan (ArtEZ, the Arnhem Academy of Art and Design), Mayra Slagboom (HKU University of the Arts, Utrecht), Michiel Terpelle (Werkplaats Typografie, Arnhem) and Yuri Sato (Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam). The design of the catalogue is made by Filip Birkner (Gerrit Rietveld Academie).

Thank you for your energy and your passion. The future is yours!

I would like to express my gratitude for the (financial) support of Igepa Nederland and Drukkerij Tielen (Boxtel). Without you there would be no student catalogue.

Esther Scholten

director De Best Verzorgde Boeken | The Best Dutch Book Designs

When first discussing what we consider good, great or even best book designs in the year 2019, we came to realise the answer cannot be given without first contemplating our own position as a student jury. We have the shared experience of studying, producing and consuming graphic design to educate ourselves, we may differ with respect to our personal backgrounds, perspectives and ideals. Each member represents a country, an academy and a history of dealing with written and visual language. As we are given the opportunity to speak about what matters to us, we can not separate ourselves from those experiences. Being positioned as a ‘student jury’ implies a juxtaposition to the official jury (and therefore their experiences and perspective) we felt compelled to investigate our raison d’être. Esther mentions in the preface that we are given the opportunity to create an exchange of ideas and experiences between the established order as the next generation of bookmakers. We have the liberty to make our very own, unique selection. What we present in this catalogue is somehow representative of our individuality and personal views.

We have selected only the books that really stood out to us, 30 in total. Books that care about the world we live in, that acknowledge in one form or another the culture that we share and add new ideas to the graphic design toolbox we have at our disposal. Some of them have stunning and incredibly ‘sexy’ images. We’ve selected books with amazing and aesthetically pleasing typography. Very clear, sharp and specific books, but also those that were poetic, vernacular, full of twists and turns. Important issues are represented and important people too. Here they are, presented as they were to us.