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PANZ: Inhouse Design and Katie Kerr win big in this year's 2019 Book Design Awards

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he Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) has announced the winners of the 2019 Book Design Awards and the winner is heavily tattoed with a lot of attention to details that speak of heritage and pride. “Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing (Sean Mallon & Sébastien Galliot, Te Papa Press)”, designed by Arch MacDonnell, was awarded in the categories of best illustrated book and best typography, as well as taking out the Gerard Reid award for best overall book design and the people’s choice award.

The impressive 320pp hardback book retells the unique and powerful history of Sāmoan tattooing, from 3,000 years ago to modern practices. Richly illustrated with historical images of nineteenth and twentieth century Sāmoan tattooing, contemporary tattooing, diagrams of tattoo designs and motifs, and with supplementary photographs such as posters, ephemera, film stills and artefacts the eye-catching publication was highly praised by the judges for its “detailed and attentive design, high production values and sensitivity to the subject matter.”

Design and craft were evident across all the titles, from the biggest and boldest to the most subtle treatment of typographic setting. Books brimming with great content and ideas presented each designer with a unique set of challenges. In the end the range of challenges and the way they were met by the designers across every aspect of the design led us to unanimous agreement” noted judging convener David Coventon on the high quality of this year’s finalists.

“While from a cultural history perspective the text is significant, it is also a significant piece of design,” writes Lana Lopesi in the introduction to her interview with the book's designer, Arch MacDonnell, creative director at the Auckland based consultancy Inhouse Design. “We wanted to give the book a strong sense of identity so we explored the idea that lettering somehow based on tatau could be developed to create a unique wordmark. The result is a wordmark and numeral set that draws on the shark tooth motif prevalent in Samoan tatau. We love how the stencil nature of the forms means it can be read as both pattern and letters at the same time” he notes of the multi-awarded design-forward book.

Custom type is thoughtful and visually striking, yet it is the dialogue created between this and the half cover that really stands out. The imagery shot by Greg Semu introduces a clear anthropological component to the graphic language of the cover. And in these images, completes the picture. It goes further. In its reversible black and white cover of male and female models with very different tattoos the half cover touch upon identity, and in the bisection of the graphic book cover, serves as a metaphor for covering up, the hidden, divisional and socio-cultural provocations of tattooingwrites Richard Baird in his review of Tatau.

“The impression and imposition of ink on skin is pleasantly materialised as black and white foils debossed onto the surface of the book cover. This balance of striking form and tactility serves to catch the eye and deliver detail up close, but in a way that is rooted in the theme. The custom stencil typeface finds a smart synergy with the content but with enough difference to stand out from, frame and sequence content. Interior pages, their layouts, colour, dialogue between image and text furthers the implication of chronology, the passage of time, the reshaping of tattooing as the practice crosses cultural boundaries and geographical thresholds. Layouts and colour bring a visual credibility, particularly in the approach to referencing; the formality of an academic text, but with the large images of an art book. This balance of aesthetic pleasure and contextual richness within the framework of archival is satisfying. The strong graphic impression and design craft of cover, and the approach to the design of interior pages appear as an effective distillation and augmentation of this relationship between image and text, the anthropological and the aesthetic, individual expression and collective identity” he adds.

“We love how the stencil nature of the forms means it can be read as both pattern and letters at the same time”

Another big winner in this year's PANZ Awards is Katie Kerr who is named Allen & Unwin Young Designer of the Year 2019. A graphic designer based in Tāmaki Makaurau Kerr's practice focusses on the creation of books, publications and printed materials in the broad field of the contemporary cultural sector. She is interested in text and language and the space between the romantic and the rational.

Previously Head of Design at Alain de Botton’s The School of Life in London, she returned to New Zealand to complete her Masters of Fine Art at Ilam School of Fine Arts. Now, alongside designing for local and international clients, she runs GLORIA, an experimental publishing platform, with photographer Alice Connew. This platform functions as a research facility to explore the multidisciplinary production of paperback books. She also has a hand in Strange Goods, a new art book store on Karangahape Road, and The Directory of Women Designers.

“Katie Kerr’s portfolio was consistently understated in its approach. She presented us with books small-in-scale but brave and experimental in both content and production value” noted the judges of her awarded work.

Katie Kerr's winning portfolio is comprised of the following publications: Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy by School of Life (Alain de Botton), Sportsman of the Year: A Suburban Philosophy by Jan Hellriegal, Make Every Day by Rebecca Commisaris, Bee Curious by Kantar & the School of Life, Dirt by Gemma Walsh & Katie Kerr.

“Katie Kerr’ presented us with books small-in-scale but brave and experimental in both content and production value” 

Following are the winning titles in each category:

Best book: Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing (Sean Mallon & Sébastien Galliot, Te Papa Press), designed by Arch MacDonnell

Best illustrated book: Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing (Sean Mallon & Sébastien Galliot, Te Papa Press), designed by Arch MacDonnell

Best non-illustrated book: Women, Equality, Power (Helen Clark, A&U), designed by Kate Barraclough

Best children’s book: The Bomb (Sacha Cotter, illus by Josh Morgan, Huia Publishers), designed by Te Kani Price

Best educational book: Why is That Lake So Blue?: A children’s guide to New Zealand’s natural world (Simon Pollard, Te Papa Press), designed by Kate Barraclough

Best cookbook: Always Delicious: Favourite recipes from the New Zealand Listener (Lauraine Jacobs, Potton & Burton), designed by Floor van Lierop

Best typography: Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing (Sean Mallon & Sébastien Galliot, Te Papa Press), designed by Arch MacDonnell

Best cover: Wanted: The search for the modernist murals of E. Mervyn Taylor (ed by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Massey University Press), designed by Anna Brown

People’s choice award: Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing (Sean Mallon & Sébastien Galliot, Te Papa Press), designed by Arch MacDonnell

The PANZ Book Design Awards were established by the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) to promote excellence in, and provide recognition for, the best book design in New Zealand. 

Katie Kerr's images via PANZ. Tatau images via Inhouse Design.