As part of the 2012 Sydney Writers Festival, the Powerhouse has developed a small display titled Cover story: 60 years of Australian book design to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Australian Publishers Association (APA) Book Design Awards.
The display includes six decades of award winning and highly commended books lent by APA and Museum staff, with some of the earlier historical books sourced for display by the Powerhouse Museum Research Library.
Design and Society curator Anne Marie Van de Ven comments: “These books document evolving taste in book design, typography and production, revealing both the influence and impact of changing technology and the skill and achievements of Australian graphic designers, illustrators, printers, book binders and publishers.”
The display illustrates changing taste in particular categories of books such as cookbooks, childrens books, photography books and books on Australian life. Cookbooks have undergone the most dramatic changes in design and focus, from covers featuring a range of cooked dishes to close-ups of single ingredients to covers which don’t feature food at all.
Books also offer a good vehicle for exploring Australia’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. “As a safe, familiar and accessible format, memorable books and characters have helped shape this nation’s identity,” says Anne-Marie.
A separate showcase focuses on the design process, featuring the work of Jenny Grigg, APA Young Designer of the Year (1996 and 2001) and Harry Williamson, recipient of the APA Hall of Fame award (2001).