Antalis Creative Power Awards finalists: four books pushing the boundaries of paper possibilities
Earlier in 2022, we brought you news of the Antalis Creative Power Awards – a celebration of printed projects by international paper manufacturer Antalis. Once the deadline was closed and all of the entries were in, we travelled to Paris to take part in the jury alongside a range of talented individuals from the design industry; helping to select the finalists from the awards’ eight categories.
From there, we have curated our favourites, and will be presenting them to you across a series of eight articles before unveiling the winners. First up, we have four projects from the Reports & Publishing category; with a masterclass of paper stocks, print finishes and editorial design on show.
Internationally acclaimed for her striking, immersive installations, Berlin-based Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota’s exhibition, Tracing Boundaries, continued to expand on the artist’s exploration of connection, entanglement and delicacy – manifesting in her primary medium; string. Commissioned by and built within Espoo Museum of Modern Art, the exhibition required an identity and catalogue that similarly mirrored Shiota’s artistic investigations, turning to Helsinki-based creative studio Kuudes, who achieved as much and more.
“The essence of the book was a handmade feeling with recycled materials,” Art Director and Partner Tony Eräpuro tells us, discussing the fundamental tactility of Tracing Boundaries’ catalogue and their decision to use Nautilus Classic paper stocks. “You can feel it is authentic,” he adds, “with the paper being 100% recycled and premium quality it’s also opaque,” Eräpuro notes, “so very suitable for printing full bleed images on both sides,” opting for contrasting paper weights throughout, with both greyboard and 160gsm stock sitting side by side. “Greyboard and grey colour were influenced by the exhibition place which is surrounded by concrete architecture,” he explains, taking other influence for the physical space in the effective use of red string within the book’s open-spine binding, directly alluding to Shiota’s practice.
Bringing together the catalogue’s high-end printing techniques is Kuudes’ choice of typefaces, opting for Dinamo’s Favorit as the practical body copy and No Bad Type’s Rascal as the headline type. “The initial presentation had three different logo versions for the exhibition,” Eräpuro explains, producing varied combinations of grotesks and serif typefaces to reference the ornamental vignettes of the artwork. “Rascal was selected in the end,” Eräpuro concludes, “as the sophisticated contrast in the stem of the letters is as thin as the red strings in the artwork itself.”
New York-based creative Laura Coombs has crafted the physically and typographically serene Ground/Work, an art book documenting the collective work of artists featured in Clark Art Institute’s first outdoor exhibition – a Williamstown-based gallery hosting contemporary art. With wrap-around blind embossing, thumb cuts detailing each featured artist, printed edges, whiteboard and delicate thread-sewn binding, the publication houses an impressive array of high-end finishes and printing techniques, all of which reference the creative context of the exhibition.
“The all-white, blind debossed cover functions in several ways,” Coombs tells us. “It allows the book to feel like a sculpture itself, to convey the emergence of sculpture from the specific landscape grounds of the museum,” she lists, utilising an aerial photograph of the museum’s landscape for the debossing texture, “and to evoke the feeling of a clean slate.” This notion is further present in the use of Times New Roman as the publication’s hero typeface – providing a default-like tone to the typography – and the inclusion of Munken Polar Rough as the book’s paper stock. “We originally selected Arena White Rough, but due to supply chain shortages we used Munken Polar Rough,” Coombs recalls, “we wanted the pages to feel rough, uncoated, natural, and of one consistent material throughout,” reflective of the natural materials featured in the exhibition.
Discussing the process of the book’s physical production, Coombs tells us, “the white cover board we sourced had a manufacturing flaw which – in order to avoid – necessitated using the reverse side of the material,” in doing so, making the material more challenging to emboss. “The interior section divider title pages are also embossed,” she adds, explaining the increased challenges in controlling the embossing’s height, sharpness and consistency. “Finally,” Coombs reveals, “the four-colour painted edges were challenging to print without marking the white cover in the process,” praising the work of Die Keure for perfecting the printing procedure.
Marking Brian Kwok’s second editorial exploration into Hong Kong’s neon signage, the publication Hong Kong Neon Sign Artworks – Vol. 1 Restaurant, designed by Hong Kong-based design studio Nous, hosts a binary structure consisting of two removable sections. With one discussing the histories of neon signage and the other exhibiting sketches of neon creations. Nous’ dedication to materiality in the book is meticulous and everpresent, combining the signage itself and archival documentation as the inspiration for the publication’s design and print, featuring a plethora of advanced techniques from UV, fluorescent and glow-in-the-dark inks to hot stamping, embossed texts and the inclusion of a signage-inspired fluorescent tube within the binding.
The publication itself was printed on uncoated and coasted papers, providing a distinction between each separate booklet, and underwent an eight-colour printing process – highlighting the vibrancy of neon signage through the inclusion of bright colour. As a companion to the publication, an ultraviolet torch is included, allowing the reader to pick out the neon sketches in the dark, cementing the context and legacy of Hong Kong’s infamous neon-saturated cityscape.
Mechelen-based book designer Tina De Souter has crafted Until the End, housing the work of creative image-maker and photographer Hanne Lamon. Reflecting the fragility, unconscious and intuition of the artist’s work, the editorial design and visual language of the publication is sparse, delicate and refined, opting for minimal typography, notably choosing Dharma Type’s Bebas Neue Pro to showcase the book’s poetry by Birsen Uçar.
“The cover is printed on Munken Kristall Rough 300gsm,” De Souter explains, drawn to the stock’s rough tactility and high-white hue. “I really value a ‘haptic’ approach to the books I design,” she notes, reflecting as much with the use of Olin Regular Absolute White 60gsm as the internal paper choice. “This paper is also called ‘Bible’ paper,” De Souter adds, “it is a very thin paper and portrays the fragility of the content of the book very well,” additionally providing the publication with a sense of transparency, play and shape. “You can see the previous image, the current image and also the next one,” she recalls, referring to the motif of passing-time prevalent in Lamon’s practice. “You don’t get a fresh start on every page, the past and the future also remain in the picture,” De Souter remarks. “By choosing such a thin paper, it also provokes caution from the reader,” encouraging them to interact with the publication with a corresponding sense of delicacy.
Due to the thin weight of the paper stock, and the want to showcase the featured images fully, Until the End stars a singer stitch binding, highlighting both the coloured thread and the photographic images. “It’s very rewarding to see all the pieces of the puzzle fit so beautifully together, as they do in this project,” De Souter explains, recalling her love for the archival, exhibition-like space a printed publication provides. “That’s what I love most about book design,” she adds, “not only designing them, but creating a three-dimensional object,” concluding, “I always call books ‘the sculptures of graphic design.’”