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The Prize of Success

Publishing Grant Recipient

The Swiss Design Awards 2002 relaunch and the networks of promotion

Author & Researcher:
Jonas Berthod

Short abstract

In the small world of Swiss graphic design, federal prizes such as the Swiss Design Awards and the Most Beautiful Swiss Books are followed closely. The winners’ works are admired – sometimes envied – and frequently emulated. These prizes therefore often play the role of bellwethers of the graphic design scene. Moreover, the Swiss Design Awards’ generous CHF25,000 prize allows practitioners to launch their careers, finance a personal project and focus on lesser paid, but critically recognised work. At the same time, discussions and criticisms inevitably arise after every award ceremony. Speaking in hushed tones and semi-formulated allegations, designers speculate as to why some of their colleagues won instead of others. Rumours abound: some argue that jury members are embroiled in conspiracies, favour their social circles and exclude competitors. Analysing this universe in close detail, The Prize of Success retraces the recent history of the Swiss Design Awards and analyses how it enabled a new design culture to emerge in Switzerland. It uncovers the power dynamics behind the Swiss design scene and describes how they define it.

Author biography

Jonas Berthod is a graphic designer at Atelier Dyakova in London and as a lecturer and artistic associate at ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne. He is also a visiting lecturer at Kingston University in London.

After studying graphic design and visual communication at ECAL and the Royal College of Art, he earned a Ph.D. in art history at the University of Bern. His dissertation analysed the Swiss Design Awards 2002 relaunch and its impact on the design scene. He contributed to and co-edited a volume of the recent publication Swiss Graphic Design Histories (2021), which offers new perspectives on the history of the discipline. His research focuses on recent Swiss graphic design history.

He is also the co-organiser of Behind the Books, an exhibition and discussion of the Most Beautiful Swiss Books in London, and the co-curator and moderator of the Weltformat Symposium, which takes place annually in Lucerne