On the same page - Issue 173 - Magazine | Monocle

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And the winner is? Well, there are 50 of them in our annual Design Awards, brought to page each year by Nic Monisse, our design editor. The reason that we originally wanted to enter the fray when it comes to bestowing accolades in this realm is that we felt that too many good projects were being overlooked – and perhaps too many garlands were being draped around the necks of the same recipients in the same few design outposts. Using our global outreach and our usual focus on simple solutions, honest materials and a quality of life for all, we hope that the line-up of talent that appears in this issue will delight and surprise – and nudge along projects and plans that sit on your agendas (whether revamping your company’s HQ or remaking your domestic setting).

There’s another list to pore over in this issue – and one that in many ways intersects with the world of design. In what turned into an epic and revealing project, we have asked 50 academics, designers, photographers and writers to pick the one book that they think you should own (seeing as some of them have chosen rare first editions, you might need to go for more affordable alternatives unless you have intentions of switching your career to become a cat burglar).


We’ve always, for selfish and wise reasons, been champions of print but the idea for this project went further. In recent months we started to come across numerous beautiful books produced as passion moves, or as limited runs, and realised that the book world was seeing the arrival of a wave of innovative publishers. When we were recently in Warsaw, for example, we met Filip Niedenthal, a former editor of Vogue Polska, who has now turned to books with his imprint 77 Press. He was enthused about the potential to deliver innovation between the covers. In Singapore, our correspondent Naomi Xu Elegant told us about Jayapriya Vasudevan, an agent shaking up the Asian literary landscape. And then we had a visit in London from celebrated typographer Erik Spiekermann, who, back home in Berlin, has an impressive letterpress set-up, where he resets and reprints limited-edition versions of novels and some factual books. It’s called toc – The Other Collection – and he is part of a team that includes designer Susanna Dulkinys, author Irene Dische and publisher Birgit Schmitz. Every book gets a new jacket, which is based on a fabric that connects to the story, the topic and the author. Clearly it was time for us to help everyone make a new library – and ask the well-read what should be on its shelves.

One of the best parts of being on a magazine is when everyone comes together to make a story work: a writer who creates a narrative that’s well reported and enticing, matched with photography that sings and a page design that feels innovative without being painfully verbose (we want you to read with ease). I hope that this chorus of effort has come to the fore in this month’s Expo.

As someone who has bought quite a few print editions, I have always been interested in the idea of ownership. If you buy a painting, it’s yours. But an edition, even if it’s numbered and signed, and made by the artist – is that just a step up from a poster? You rarely dwell on this for long as even if you buy a print that’s one of 100, the chances of walking into a house and seeing “your” picture are pretty slim. Until now. Working with Edition vfo in Zürich, we tracked down where the prints from one of its editions ended up. The cast of owners and their stories explains this part of the almost democratic section of the art market with ease. And, yes, they are also a celebration of ink, paper and print – to this day the most powerful way to tell a story.

We hope that you enjoy this issue. And you can always let me know your thoughts by dropping me an email at at@monocle.com. Ideas for future awards? Books we should know about? Multiple musings? Send them our way. — L 

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