our work was featured in issue #19 of ‘graphic’ magazine (published in korea), entitled: ‘what a beautiful book is’, it focusses on several of the (many) international and national ‘best book design’ competitions; including the dutch version and i was asked to submit a piece regarding the ‘dingen’ childrens books which have now been selected amongst the winners for the previous 2 years (2009-10 with 3 separate volumes)
the text from the article firstly, featured a transcript of the ‘best dutch books’ own jury report as follows:
…also on the table were parts three and four of the Dingen (Things) series from Uitgeverij Gottmer. So what are these little volumes? They are toddler-proof cardboard booklets containing thirty-three square full-page photos and preferably no more than one word at the bottom of the page. The photos are a tiny bit emptier than reality, but there is not a trace of nostalgia about them. Every now and then they offer a surprising detail. In books to be read aloud you get children to look at the pictures to explain the story. These Thing books aren’t books to be read aloud, they’re books to be looked at aloud. They make children look at language to explain the pictures. It’s all very open and interactive. To the panel these books were meat and drink. Naturally the talk was also about what fun they were for toddlers, but this appreciation was more than vicarious: even panel members were once toddlers…
and secondly the article featured a small contribution from me, whereby the editors asked me to tell something about the process, how the project came about, my thoughts (etcetera):
…the latest two additions to the ever-expanding ‘dingen’ series of picture books for children devised by my clients & friends Nathalie and Matthijs. When first designing the books i was very focused on making them as ‘reductive’ as possible. Like most educational books the content has to be uncluttered and clear. The imagery is their most important element and i felt that my role as a designer was to allow the ‘flow’ of the pictures and the (intentional) humor they contain, do the hard work.
Sometimes the best thing a designer can do is as little as possible… Fortunately the concept behind the series is so simple that they almost ‘create themselves’. My role is really a modest one: to help with picture editing and ensure continuity in the range, choose colours for the covers etc. I also have a young daughter who helps to test my work before we make final decisions. Kids are of course, always smarter than we think they are.
Amsterdam things was the first edition in the series which had a Dutch & an English language version; this has proved to be a success and I am now working on several new bilingual titles at the moment. The whole series has been reprinted several times and seems to be attracting a lot of enthusiasm and new ‘fans’ with each new title and new year.
On a separate note, the third edition ‘j/m’ dingen’ had already been selected for the ‘best dutch book designs’ competition last year, so it was a big surprise to us all when a further two made the selection this year. We also won a ‘vlag & wimpel’ award for best childrens book two years ago. An award which has never before, been awarded to a photobook. ‘Things’ are looking positive right now I guess…
on a final i would like to thank project editor ‘jinah min’ for sending me the magazine… it looks great