Designer Bookbinders Competition Awards Announced (2016)

Designer Bookbinders is a prominent society devoted to development of the bookbinding craft. Every year The Bookbinding Competition takes place. This year’s Competition results were announced last Friday, November 11th.

There are some old familiar faces along with some new bookbinders. Below you can find the list of awards, photos of the books and links to social profiles and web sites of bookbinders.

The set book this year was Dante’s “La Vita Nuova”.

The Mansfield Medal for Best Book in the Competition

Yuko Matsuno — “Through the Woods” by H.E. Bates

Photos courtesy Colin Neville, the owner of Woodbine Books, who has commissioned the book. Here is his description of the project:

The 1936 book, ‘Through the Woods: The English Woodland – April to April’, by H. E. Bates, with 73 black & white wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker (example shown here), published by Victor Gollancz, has always been a personal favourite in my own book collection, capturing as it does the changing seasons in an English wood.

So I commissioned the London-based bookbinder, Yuko Matsuno, to create a one-off designer binding for it. Yuko is a rising star in the world of designer bookbinding and had previously designed a number of sublime bindings for other classic books. A designer binding can really enhance the feel and look of a favourite book and in the longer term create a family heirloom.

Working on it slowly over a 2 year period, Yuko bound and decorated the book in goat and calf skin, The design on the front and rear covers present an image of trees with the interior of the wood glimpsed behind. There are hand-ink dotted calfskin onlays from which letters of the title are cut out on the spine. The colours of the onlays are associated with the four seasons and the book is contained in a green cloth covered presentation box.

Yuko has done a great job on this – and has heard that her binding is among the prizewinning bindings in a UK Annual Bookbinding Competition, organised by the Design Binding Association and will be on display in London until January. I will collect it from her next year after the exhibition; something to really look forward to in 2017.

Folio Society prize for the Set Book

1st Prize: Glenn Malkin — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Last year Glenn has received a Highly Commended Certificate given by Antiquarian Booksellers Association. He is creating design bindings since 2008 in his own bindery in East Yorkshire, England. You can also find him on Facebook.

Please read the interview with Glenn Malkin here.

2nd Prize: Kaori Maki — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Kaori is a Japanese-born artist, who now resides in the UK. She has studied at Tama Art University in Tokyo and at Camberwell University of Art. Her work has won many prizes and are parts of many private collections in the USA and the UK. You can find more on her web site and at her Facebook profile.

Book is bound in white alum-tawed goatskin with red goatskin back pared and cushion onlays. Blind tooling. Design idea is texture of velvet.

The Clothworkers’ Prize for Open Choice Book

1st Prize: Yuko Matsuno — “Through the Woods” by H.E. Bates

(see above)

2nd Prize: Kaitlin Barber — “In Smoke — Ten Variations on Eugenio Montale” by Gary Michael Dault


Kaitlin comes from Toronto, Canada. However, now she’s an Artist in Residence at Studio 5 in London completing a miniature book commission for the collection of Neale Albert. You can also follow her on Facebook.

Binding description from her blog:

Ultra flat back book construction. Unsupported link stitch secondary sewn with full linen board attachment and skirting with ¾ hollow. Hand sewn endbands with hand sewn Manhattaning to tail. Hand printed leather jointed endpapers with edge-to-edge doublures.  Hand dyed fair goat. De-bossing to back board and cold gold de-bossing to front board with leaves.  Design inspired by reoccurring theme of the natural world and imagery of forests, foliage and gardens in relation to growth and the fragility of love.

The Lisa von Clemm Prize (judged by Stefanie von Clemm)

Jeanette Koch — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Photo by Designer Bookbinders

Jeannette Koch is a member of the executive committee of Designer Bookbinders. She also serves on the editorial board of its New Bookbinder journal. She received her first Designer Bookbinders award in 1997.

The Sally Lou Smith Prize for Forwarding

Richard Beadsmoore — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Photo by Designer Bookbinders

Prize for Finishing given by St Bride Foundation

Kaitlin Barber — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Binding description from the blog:

Unsupported link stitch secondary sewn with full linen board attachment and skirting with ¾ hollow. Book and three-dimensional figure covered in hand dyed fair goat. Full Sunago decoration.  Sewn silk endbands. Handmade digitally printed leather jointed endpapers with edge-to-edge doublures.

Design inspired by Dante’s dream of Beatrice in flames. The female figure represents earthly love while the gold flames rising into the night sky illustrate darker themes of mortality and religious transcendence.

The Arthur Johnson Award (judged by Bernard Middleton)

Jeanette Koch — “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”

Photo by Designer Bookbinders

The Elizabeth Greenhill award for Gold Tooling

Pamela Richmond — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Photo by Designer Bookbinders

Pamela is a bookbinder and book restorer from Gloucester, England. She studied Fine Bookbinding and Restoration at Guildford College, where she won the William Matthews’ Memorial award.

The Ash Rare Books Lettering award

Piotr Jarosz — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Piotr came to the UK from Poland. He graduated from the University of Arts and works now as a bookbinder in a workshop in Сentral London.

Please read the interview with Piotr Jarosz here.

The J. Hewit & Sons prize

Ann Tout — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Photo by Designer Bookbinders

Ann is a bookbinder, book illustrator and engraver. She holds multiple bookbinding awards. Her work has been exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Mall Galleries, the Bankside Gallery, and the Royal West of England Academy.

The Harmatan Leather Ltd prize

Bec Britain — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

“The design reflects Dante’s evolving sense of the limitations of courtly love and its transition into sacred love.”

Photo by Designer Bookbinders

Bec works in Brighton, England. She has been awarded Highly Commended prizes in Designer Bookbinders Annual Competitions twice: in 2014 and 2015. Besides bookbinding, she works as an artist, specializing in paper crafts and willow sculpture and in arts project development.

Please read the interview with Bec Britain here.

The Judges’ award (donated by Maggs Bros)

Jeanette Koch — “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”

(see above)

The Shepherds prize for Book Arts

Theresa Wedemeyer — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Photo by Designer Bookbinders

Four Highly Commended Certificates (given by Antiquarian Booksellers Association)

Patrick Gibbins — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Yuko Matsuno — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Gill Pickup — “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin

Pamela Richmond — “La Vita Nouva” by Dante

Photos by Designer Bookbinders

For the list of the last year winners check this post.

Judges of the competition:

  • Julie Farquhar, The Folio Society
  • Thomas Heneage, Director, Thomas Heneage Art Books
  • Patricia Lovett MBE, Vice-Chair of the Heritage Crafts Association
  • Mark Cockram, Fellow of Designer Bookbinders
  • Lori Sauer, President of Designer Bookbinders

The exhibition of the 2016 Competition will take place at:

St Bride Foundation
Bride Lane
Fleet Street
Please see for a map

11th November – 24th November 24th 2016
The opening hours are:

Monday – Friday 12 – 6pm
Saturday – 12 – 4pm


Additional Resources