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1946, 1947, 1948: The missing years of the most beautiful Swiss books

Since 1943, when Jan Tschichold proposed to honour the most beautiful Swiss books with an annual award, the competition has become ever more popular. Less well known is that the competition did not take place in 1946, 1947 and 1948. 

This gap in activity, following a successful first couple of years, provided the background for a research project, leading to three exhibitions, a series of lectures and print and online publications. This research allowed space for speculation, connecting the period in the late ’40s with the present day by examining the formal, technological and educational context of book production then and now. 

Corina Neuenschwander in collaboration with Roland Früh and Jenny Eneqvist.

A series of workshops and roundtables accompanying exhibitions in Zurich, Locarno and Geneva generated rich and focused discussion about design, printing and other aspects of book production. The collected documentation, transcripts and images served as a starting point for an editorial project and printed publication.

The editorial concept included some of the initial research, presentations of selected books and edited documentation of the events. Additionally, a group of critics were invited to reflect and comment on the unexpected and most discussed aspects of design and production seen in the exhibited books.

An online archive accompanied the publication, presenting audio resources and additional images of the selected books.

Edited by Roland Früh and Corina Neuenschwander.

Contributions by Julia Born, Klaus Born, Hans Burkhardt, Nicolas Eigenheer, Mirjam Fischer, Davide Fornari, Hans Rudolf Gabathuler, Jost und Ursula Hochuli, Philippe Kaenel, François Rappo, Christoph Schifferli, Andreas Schwab, Fabio Soldini, Nicole Uldry.

Essays by Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Patrick Gosatti and Noah Stolz, Robin Kinross, Philipp Messner, Ulrike Meyer Stump, Christina Reble, Severin Rüegg, Felix Wiedler.

Photography by Rasmus Norlander and Charles Nègre.

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