Austria's most beautiful books 2023

Austria’s most beautiful books 2023 are nominated!

Books have the power to open the door to magical worlds, carry you across theoretical plains using the power of imagination. The most beautiful books – both inside and out – can even craft who we are, as individuals, by allowing us to journey through other minds and point of views.  Although they say never judge a book by its cover, we as book lovers and design enthusiasts know that a great book design highlights the majestic power of its contents. Content and design go hand in hand, like yin and yang, alluring audiences with clever compositions, innovative ideas, bold colour schemes and then captivate through the power of words.

This is why we are excited when awards of the most beautiful books around the world are announced, and this time the journey takes us to Austria. On June 3, 2024, Theresia Niedermüller, representing Andrea Mayer (State Secretary for Arts and Culture), and Benedikt Föger, President of the Main Association of the Austrian Book Trade (HVB), awarded certificates of honor to the winners of the 2023 “Austria’s Most Beautiful Books” competition. The ceremony took place at Belvedere 21 in Vienna.

A jury of experts from publishing, book trade, design, and printing selected 15 winning titles from 183 submissions as Austria’s most beautiful books of 2023. Additionally, the BMKÖS awarded three publications with state prizes of 3,000 euros each:

Austrian State Prize Winners 2023

Public Matters
Contemporary Art in the Belvedere Garden

Public Matters presents itself with dual interpretations: “The public counts!” or”public affairs.” The book is bold and rebellious, yet friendly and accessible, inviting readers to explore contemporary art in the Belvedere garden and the book itself.

 The book follows the landscape-format photos of sculptures and interventions, displaying them with double-columned texts on single-sided sheets. These sheets are folded and adhesive-bound, protected by a laminated cover, resulting in a soft, inviting object. Titles facing the book’s edge emphasize the invitation to intellectually or physically engage with Public Matters.

Paper: Munken Lynx 80 g/m2

Publisher: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther & Franz

Design: Willi Schmid

The Belvedere. 300 years of art

Roger Boltshauser – Response

The design of the exhibition catalog Response for architect Roger Boltshauser transforms the book into a tectonic setting. Andrea Gassner and Christopher Walser subtly divide the book into three parts using fine punching on the front cut, creating a wriggling fore-edge. This design reveals its poetics only when the reader understands its mechanics. The hybrid book character responds to Boltshauser’s layered work, resulting in a highly sensitive and independent design.

Decisions regarding visual formats, reading directions, format rotation for large monochrome photographs, coloring, typesetting, and lithography for images, plan graphics, and sketches all work harmoniously. The trilingual texts are well-organized and typeset. This book is truly extraordinary.

Paper: Magno Volume 150 g/m2

Publisher: Park Books

Design: Atelier Andrea Gassner, Andrea Gassner, Christopher Walser

The Belvedere. 300 years of art

Published as a 400-page hardcover with extravagant gold embossing, this publication (previously covered by us here) narrates the 300-year history of the Belvedere. The German edition differs from the English in the cover color scheme, which reflects the pastel tones of a ceiling painting in the Lower Belvedere.

Despite its ambitious scope, this book is not a large, kitschy coffee table book. Instead, it is a handy, subtly designed homage with text that bridges past and present. Each era begins with a fold-out chapter page, and the book’s edge indentations outline the content structure. Illustrated overviews and content summaries introduce each period, while large
quotations draw the reader into the story. The typography blends different fonts seamlessly, and the layout balances symmetry and asymmetry with colorful dividers providing structure.

 A dignified and timelessly beautiful realization. A benchmark work.

Paper:  Munken Lynx 120 g/m2PERGRAPHICA® Timid Grey 120 g/m2

Publisher: De Gruyter

Design: Marie Artaker

The Belvedere. 300 years of art

Austrian award winners 2023

In the contest “Austria’s Most Beautiful Books,” books receive awards for their great design and high-quality production. This brings attention to an important aspect of making books and gives it the recognition it deserves. Winning this national competition allows Austrian companies to enter an international contest. Winners get to show their books in exhibitions worldwide, helping them meet new business partners.

Books submitted for the competition, which are mostly made in Austria, are judged by a competent jury. The jury includes experts from printing, bookbinding, typesetting, design, publishing, book trade, and media. They evaluate the books based on technical craftsmanship, design, and overall concept.

Display of the most beautiful books

The award-winning books will be exhibited in December 2024 as part of the “Most Beautiful Books of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands 2023” exhibition at the Vienna Main Library. They will also be showcased at international book fairs like the Leipzig Book Fair, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and Buch Wien 24. More exhibitions are being arranged.

These 15 winning books from Austria will also compete in the global contest “The Most Beautiful Books from Around the World”.

So here we have it! Which of the most beautiful books is your favourite? Let us know in the comment section below.

Public Matters Contemporary art in the Belvedere Garden
Roger Boltshauser - Response
Roger Boltshauser - Response
The Belvedere. 300 years of art
Igniting Penguins. A Manifesto for Painting
Igniting Penguins. A Manifesto for Painting
Killing men / Männer töten
Killing men (orig. Männer töten)
Heinz Wäger Insight into 60 years of design architecture, design, object
Heinz Wäger Insight into 60 years of design: architecture, design, object
Between the lines
Between the lines
If responsibility were a hat
If responsibility were a hat
A plus minus Z Payer Gabriel. Abwesenheit – Zufall / Absence – Accidental
Jeremias Altmann – YOUNG PROPHECIES / MACHINES Zwei Werkserien / Two Series of Works
STARS, FEATHERS, TASSELS The Wiener Werkstätte artist Felice Rix-Ueno (1893–1967)
The Secession Talks Exhibitions in Conversation 2011–2022

Images © Michael Goldgruber/BMKÖS

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