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November 12, 2019

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There’s beauty in these books and it is by design

There were 25 winners in China’s Beauty of Books awards this year, including eight from local publishers, the city’s press and publication bureau announced yesterday.

The books, selected from 342 submitted by 106 Chinese publishers, will now be sent to Leipzig in Germany to vie for the 2020 Best Book Design From All Over The World competition.

“Three Chapters of Gardening” by Chen Congzhou, published by Tongji University Press, integrates the garden design into the design of book. The front cover has a hole shaped as a “moon gate,” a circular opening in a garden wall that acts as a pedestrian passageway in Chinese gardens. “It makes me feel that it’s inviting me to explore this ‘garden,’” said Li Jin, one of the judges and a designer from Shaanxi Province. “The inside pages of pictures are in different shapes and sizes to form the environment of a traditional Chinese garden.”

“Minor Orthopedic Operation,” from Beijing’s Chemical Industry Press, is a medical textbook with artistic designs. The spine uses red strings to connect front and back covers looking like sutures. Inside are small X-ray films that allow the reader to see problems clearly. The colors in the book are mainly red and white — the hues of muscle and bone.

“The design of science books is always a weak part of domestic book design,” said judge Zhou Chen, a Jiangsu Province designer. “But this book is one made by heart. Its designs, such as the spine and the hue, all respond to the theme ‘operation.’ And the placing X-ray films as inserts is also very creative and relevant to its theme.”

“Shang Hai Tu Hua” (Shanghai Illustration Story), from the Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, is a book about the city’s illustration art history which uses a plicated cover to give a sense of old times. Some pages and gatefolds use old-style paper to simulate old posters and pictures to make readers recall the city’s past stories.

“It’s designed by Shanghainese designer Jiang Qinggong, whose previous work “Shang Hai Zi Ji” (Shanghai Character Record) won the 2015 Beauty of Books award in China,” said Zhou. “This time he collected old materials of the city’s illustrations in the past century, sorting and compiling them to make this book.”

Another book from the same publisher, “Ouyang Chun: The Mortals,” is a collection of the artist’s works which combine people’s old and waste household items and gives them new life. There was an exhibition of the works at a local gallery in March and April this year.

Ouyang collected waste furniture and old household items, grouping them together to create artistic works with different themes. These works are recorded in the book, which has its papers — all recycled newsprint — cut irregularly.

The book doesn’t have page numbers and the chapters are scattered in it, breaking the general cataloging form.


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