Best Book Design 2023

The International Book Arsenal Festival has announced the winners of the Best Book Design 2023 competition


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The International Book Arsenal Festival, Ukraine’s premier competition for book design, has announced its winners. Recipients across five categories, along with five special award winners, are now poised to represent Ukraine on the global stage.


Florian Lamm, a German designer and one of the two international members of the seven-member jury, expressed his admiration for the quality of the 186 submissions received from Ukrainian publishers for the contest.


“I did not expect that books would be published so clearly during the war and that they would be of such high quality. It is interesting how such times are translated into the language of design. These are interesting solutions that combine Western and Eastern design traditions, and they create something unusual in combination,” he told Chytomo.


Andriy Lesiv of the Agrafka creative workshop, said an evident trend among the submissions was the desire of the designers to reconceptualize traditional forms of Ukrainian artistic traditions for contemporary audiences.


“Among the trends, we see rhyme bridges to traditions, to Ukrainian art, to the art of the Ukrainian 20s, 10s, to Ukrainian graphics, efforts to actualize it in modern times,” he said.


The finalists and winners of the competition will represent Ukrainian book design in the international competition “The Most Beautiful Books in the World”, which is organized by the German Buchkunst Foundation. In addition, winning books are exhibited at international book fairs in Leipzig and Frankfurt. The winner of the grand prize will receive the main prize of the competition — an iconic statuette.


The winners and finalists of the contest are:



Grand Prix



The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut


Maria Havrysh and Volodymyr Havrysh created the publication concept, cover design, and illustrations for The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, and also the Babylon Library Publishing House. Book design and layout by Volodymyr Havrysh.






Utility Book Nomination

Russian Colonialism by Maksym Eristavi

The book was published by ist publishing has become the winning book. Art director — Sergiy Maidukov, illustrations by Sergiy Maidukov, Alisa Gots, Nikita Kravtsov, Nataliia Kozeko, Danylo Shtangeev, Natasha Steshenko, Ave Libertatemaveamor. Design and layout by Ostap Yashchuk.



Art Book Nomination


NIKIFOR by Myroslava Mudrak

The book by Myroslava Mudrak published by RODOVID Publishing House and Ukrainian Museum in New York


Experiment Nomination


When War Is Coming Home by Yelyzaveta Berestova

Self-published book by the author



Visual Storytelling Nomination


The jury also decided to expand the Kids Book Nomination to the Visual Storytelling Nomination.

Blackout. Chronicles of Our Life During Russia’s War Against Ukraine by seri/graph, Anya Ivanenko and Zhenya Polosina. Design — seri/graph studio and Yakaboo publishing





Text Book Nomination


Terror from the Air by Peter Sloterdijk

Design and layout by Volodymyr Havrysh, ist publishing


Ukraine: 50 Symbols of Struggle by Yurii Marchenko, Tetiana Kapustynska, Daria Yakunina, Kateryna Igolkina, Yevhen Skliarenko

Concept, cover design, design, and layout by Valeriia Horodchanina, illustrations by Maria Kinovych,, Blank Press



Art Book Nomination


Janet Sobel: Wartime by Peter Doroshenko, Alisa Lozhkina

Design by Volodymyr Havrysh, RODOVID Publishing House, Ukrainian Museum in New York



Bolnichka by Vladyslav Krasnoshchok

Design by Calin Kruse, editor — Serhii Lebedynskyi, Museum of Kharkiv School of Photography (MOKSOP)



Flooding by Nikita Kadan and Aliona Karavai

Book design and layout by Yaroslava Kovalchuk, Asortymentna kimnata



Our Years, Our Words, Our Losses, Our Searches, Our Us (a catalogue for the Jam Factory exhibition), authors and compilers: Borys Filonenko, Kateryna Iakovlenko, Natalia Matsenko

Design, layout, concept — Katya Drozd, ist publishing



Utility Book Nomination


More Than Service by Artur Lupashko

Publication concept by Artur Lupashko and Tetiana Kostina, cover design and layout by Daria Stetsenko, book design by Tetiana Kostina and Daria Stetsenko, punkt publishing



Visual Storytelling Nomination


A Travel Book. Independent by Iryna Taranenko

Design by Marta Leshak, Knygolove Publishing House



Silence! The Rehearsal Is On by Viktor Martyniuk

Design — Oksana Drachkovska, Old Lion Publishing House



Experiment Nomination


Hometown by Ruslana Kliuchko

Design — Ruslana Kliuchko, self-published



Dirt 1929 by Petro Holota

Design, concept, illustration idea, and layout by Galya Vergeles. AI programming by Vlad Frolov. Butsia Self-Publishing Initiative


Best Book Design 2023 Special Honours:


The jury’s special award for developing indie publishing goes to RISODENTSIA


The jury’s special award for the poetry book design goes to Diskursus Publishing House and Yakomoga book by Max Lyzhov. Design by Maryna Dyachenko, Diskursus Publishing House


The jury’s special award for the direction that the design approach can lead to

goes to The Non-Canon Canon Series by Vikhola Publishing House. Covers by Volodymyr Havrysh, layout by Serhii Zadvornyi, art editor — Victoria Shelest. Vikhola Publishing House


Treasures of the Swedish archives by Maryna Trattner are awarded with the jury’s special award for decent artistic processing of archival materials. Cover and layout by Oleksiy Chekal. Illustrations by Natalia Pavlusenko, FOP Maksymovska Yu. A.


The jury’s special award for developing the periodicals

Telegraf. WILL

design by Hlib Kaporikov and Yevhenia Lysenko, Projector publishing

Telegraf. Creativity of the Brave

design by Kaporikov, Anastasia Shyshenok, Yulia Stroi, Roksana Chychuk, and Veronika Sokol, Projector publishing



The jury included:


Agrafka creative workshop (Romana Romanyshyn, Andriy Lesiv);
Sasha Bychenko;
Nadia Kelm;
Hlib Kaporikov;
Anna Ivanenko;
Florian Lamm (Germany);
Przemek Dembowski (Poland).



“Although not super-fast, the constant development of book design is probably the main long-term trend. Children’s books that do not ignore the war, but tell about it, injustice, death and pain – honestly and directly, but delicately and in a language accessible to a child – both in words and in illustrations, ” said Sasha Bychenko (Kultura Studio).”



According to Bychenko, he is impressed by the complex typographical experiments of Maria Gavrish and Volodymyr Gavrish (in particular, in the book “Titan’s Sirens”), so he hopes that this victory will raise the level for the book industry as a whole.


Pshemek Dembowski, Karakter Publishing House (Poland): “If we distance ourselves from the realities of the war, I think that book design in Ukraine is quite on a par with European design. I remember my experience with Polish book design. There was a period when Poles copied design from Western countries, in particular, from Germany. I didn’t notice that here. It is impressive that there are separate voices and approaches in book design in Ukraine. It’s nice to see that the whole design is diverse and there is no certain unifying element.”


“I could expect cheaper materials and execution in most books, but this is not the case: there are technical experiments and certain non-standard technical solutions that require more careful printing, or more careful control over the production process and financial possibilities,” Anna Ivanenko emphasized (Studio Seri/Graph).


“I am amazed that there are many rather complex technological solutions, taking into account the conditions in which publishing houses and printing houses work now, it is very nice to see. Personally, I am very glad that we have singled out the new category “Visual Storytelling”, because for me this was the main problem, how to evaluate books that are built exclusively on illustrations. How to apply the same criteria to them as to books, which contain many other components,” said data visualizer Nadia Kelm.


“It is normal that the contest adapts and changes categories. “Visual storytelling” allows for a much wider assessment of the visual narrative both in children’s books and in illustrations for adults,” said Romana Romanyshyn (Agrafka creative workshop).


In addition, the Buchkunst Foundation will invite the author of the largest contribution to the design of the grand prize book on a professional trip to Germany in 2024. Publishers whose editions won the competition and winners of special awards will receive tickets to the Frankfurt Book Fair and participation in professional events at the fair.


All publications submitted to the Contest that did not receive awards or special honours will be donated to libraries jointly with PEN Ukraine.


The Contest is held by the International Book Arsenal Festival in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Ukraine. The “Best Book Design 2023” contest takes place with the financial support of the German State Ministry for Culture and the Media.


The project partners — the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Buchkunst Foundation.

Media partners — Telegraf.Design and Chytomo.

The hospitality partner — BURSA.



RELATED: Book Forum 2022 design wins prestigious Red Dot Design Award

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