2018 Communications Design Competition Judge’s Choice: An Innovative Art Book from XXL of Beijing

During the competition judging last January, we ask each of our eleven TDC competition judges to choose their favorite from all the entries. Bryony Gomez-Palacio chose a book designed by Beijing’s XXL Studio under the direction of Xiaoxiang Liu, which also received the TDC Best in Show award.

About XXL Studio’s Book, The Record of Suzhou’s Prosperity: Collected Works of Suzhou Taohuawu Woodblock New Year Painting Exhibition

  • Design: Qingting Guo and Yu Zhang, Beijing
  • Art Direction: Xiaoxiang Liu
  • Studio: XXL Studio
  • Client: Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House
  • Principal Type: FZSongYi, FZShuSong, Adobe Jenson Pro

Deceptively simple cover and binding of The Record of Suzhou’s Prosperity with die cuts.

This award-winning book was created as a companion to a large art exhibition dedicated to an important collection of Chinese woodblock New Year paintings. The book includes photographs of the installation in Shanghai as well as a full-color catalog of the woodblock works on display. XXL Studio, under the direction of Xiaxiang Liu, took an unusual, innovative approach.

Designers’ statement: “The special binding of this book improves the traditional Chinese wrapped ridge binding, except instead of normal French-folding pages it also has short ones and accordion folding pages. After appropriate page arrangement, the extra thickness of accordion folding pages is balanced, so the book can stay flat.

To simplify production, the short French-folding pages and accordion folding pages were folded by one paper and its extent is less than 1 meter, which is the maximum size allowed by the printing machine. The two carving sharp shapes on the Swiss-style cut-flush binding cover also match the theme.”

Detail, short pages and full pages.

Comments by Communications Design Judge Byrony Gomez-Palacio

“The proportion and thickness of this book caught my attention across the room. Once I made my way to it, I was drawn by the overtly simplistic cover that revealed nothing about what I was about to encounter on the inside—pages upon pages of beautiful typography and exquisite production.

Even though I was unable to read some of the text due to the language barrier I found myself perusing each spread, touching the paper, interacting with the folds, admiring the depth of details that kept on giving.

Detail, special accordian-page folding.

This is a book that serves as an example of what is possible when the design and the production come together for a common goal — a visual representation of careful planning, consideration, and above all an understanding of positive and negative space within a page. This book is a true delight to the senses.”

Xiaoxiang Liu of XXL displays the award-winning book, The Record of Suzhou’s Prosperity, after receiving the Best in Show award from Type Directors Club in New York. Photo: Mélanie Duault.].

About Byrony Gomez-Palacio

Born and raised in Mexico City, Bryony Gomez-Palacio is a graphic designer and writer now living in Bloomington, Indiana. She co-founded UnderConsideration, a graphic design firm and publishing enterprise where she manages the online publications Brand New, FPO, Quipsologies and The Art of the Menu.

Bryony has co-authored five books with her husband and partner, Armin Vit. Their most popular titles are Graphic Design, Referenced and the self-published Flaunt. Most recently, they conceived and presented the Brand New Conference, the Brand New Awards, the FPO Awards, and the recently launched lecture series by The Austin Initiative for Graphic Awesomeneses. Bryony enjoys conducting workshops and lecturing when not tending to her two young daughters and their crazy schedules.

Follow Bryony online: Twitter
UnderConsideration: Website | Instagram | Twitter
Brand New Conference: Instagram | Twitter

Byrony Gomez-Palacio portrait.