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The Optimism Interfaces Book Design Program


As a project of one of the most powerful Ukrainian art institutions, Book Arsenal has always paid special attention to the interaction of literature and art. Over the past 10 years, it has held many international exhibitions and events related to illustration, font design, art books and photo zines, and experimental printing. Along with that, for the first time this year, we have prepared a separate Book Design Program in order to create a context for the national competition and a friendly environment for professional communication.

We will try to look at the book design both as an illustrative function and, more broadly, as a complex and meaningful area of interaction between the textual and the visual, and both as the graphic design and as the object one working with forms and materials.

For five days, we will hold two international workshops, focusing on the research phase in book design and its importance in finding visual and material solutions, as well as rethinking approaches to book cover design. In addition, we will organize open design consultations for publishers and authors, and hold a series of presentations of publishing novelties related to book design, visual books, and art books.

In addition, specifically within Book Arsenal’s focus theme Optimists Skeptics, we will discuss, on the one hand, whether the design should be ‘optimistic’, what the ‘optimistic design’ as itself is, and how designers get readers to fall in love with books and construct their ‘positive’ experience, as well as will consider the necessary degree of skepticism. On the other hand, we will discuss how designers can keep the remnants of their optimism in the working process, and talk about precariousness, authorship in book design, the ethics of the relationship between the publisher and the designer, and the international professional standards in this area. In particular, Jonas Voegeli (Switzerland) – special guest of the program and the chairman of the jury of this year’s Best Book Design Competition organized by Book Arsenal and Goethe-Institut in Ukraine, as well as the head of Hubertus Design, one of the most famous European studios working in the field of cultural projects and book publishing, which was repeatedly awarded for achievements in design – will share his reflections on the topic in his introductory lecture.