Winning designer Aaron Beehre

Aaron Beehre definitely got his exercise at the PANZ Book Design Awards held on Thursday 26 July. The Canterbury University Press designer took to the stage four times to claim a series of awards and found himself running out of people to thank in his acceptance speeches.

New China Eyewitness: Roger Duff, Rewi Alley and the art of museum diplomacy edited by James Beattie and Richard Bullen (Canterbury University Press) was definitely the hot favourite on the night, with the judges praising the book as “a complete package”, declaring it exquisite and awarding it the Gerard Reid Award for Best Book Sponsored by Nielson Book.

The crowd agreed and it was also awarded the Hachette New Zealand People’s Choice Award, winning by a clear margin.

As if that wasn’t enough, it took out the Penguin Random House New Zealand Award for Best Illustrated Book and the HarperCollins Publishers Award for Best Cover.

This year’s awards were judged by David Coventon (convenor), Anna Brown, Janson Chau and Kiran Dass and were presented at a buzzy ceremony at the Fresh Factory in Eden Terrace.

The Upstart Press Award for Best Non-Illustrated Book was awarded to Sarah Maxey (cover design) and Katrina Duncan (interior design) for Allen Curnow Biography and Poems Slipcase edition by Terry Sturm (Auckland University Press). The book’s use of a single typography throughout captured the judges’ attention and they found the elegant design and classic typographic choices highly evocative of the life lived.

The sophisticated partnering of typography and illustration saw Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story by Gavin Bishop (Penguin Random House) receive the Scholastic New Zealand Award for Best Children’s Book. The book was designed by Vida and Luke Kelly of Kelly Design and illustrated by Gavin Bishop.

Shying away from the obvious primary colours in favour of a muted palette was a risk that paid off for designer Kate Barraclough (Kate Francis Design), who received the Edify Award for Best Educational Book for The New Zealand Art Activity Book by Helen Lloyd (Te Papa Press). The judges found the book fun for kids, user-friendly, practical and engaging.

A cookbook that successfully paired photos, text, stories and food, while delivering something “a little more” design- wise was awarded the 1010 Printing Award for Best Cookbook. Eat Up New Zealand by Al Brown (Allen & Unwin NZ) was designed by Gary Stewart of The Gas Project.

The Mary Egan Publishing Award for Best Typography was awarded to A Moral Truth by James Hollings (Massey University Press), cover design by Gideon Keith and interior design by Gideon Keith and Carla Sy. The judges delighted in the use of the ellipsis as a repeated device alongside the halftone dot illustrations, labelling this a small example of the wit demonstrated in the book.

The Allen & Unwin Young Designer of the Year Award saw two Penguin Random House colleagues battle it out for the top prize. Rachel Clark was declared the winner thanks to her well developed and varied portfolio, which demonstrated a nuanced understanding of the elements of book design.

The awards were followed by a workshop the next day which kicked off with a panel chaired by David Coventon which drew the judges out a little further on their decision-making process and touched on some of the books that they loved but had just missed out on winning the top prize.  Next up Gideon Keith and Spencer Levine got down to the nitty gritty of typography, discussing kerning and exploring whether or not there is such a thing as a bad font. The final session was led by Anna Brown and Kiran Dass and featured Andrew Long (Marketing and Sales Manager from Auckland University Press) and Sally Greer (Beatnik Publishing). The discussion focused on designing for your audience and the differences in approach between university presses and more commercial publishing houses.