Q&A with Emerging Designer nominee Akiko Chan

The Penguin Random House Australia Emerging Designer of the Year Award at this years ABDA Awards features two incredibly talented shortlisted entrants. ABDA spoke with the finalists – Vanessa Masci and Akiko Chan – on their journey into Book Design, favourite projects and their go-to fonts! Today, we hear from Akiko Chan.

When did you start working on books? Or what inspired you to want to work in the book industry?
I started working in the book industry in late 2018, when I joined the Black Inc. Books team. Prior to that, I worked in magazines and custom publications through design studios and my own practice. I’d always loved designing for print, and I’m very happy to now be primarily working in books!

What’s been your favourite project that you’ve worked on so far?
Present Tense – it’s not often that you can mull over every detail of the design and production specs. It was a big undertaking, but a really rewarding experience.

What font do you keep coming back to?
Some favourites this past year have been Portrait by Berton Hasebe, Heldane by Kris Sowersby, and Relative by Colophon Foundry. Book typesetting can put typefaces through their paces, and it’s so nice when they shine through.

Image ©klim.co.nz

A design trend that you’re enjoying at the moment?
Simple, pared-back vector illustrations on covers. I feel like it was ‘more is more’ for a while with texture and layers – and there’s now a bit of a return to clean lines. I’m also drawn to the more abstract and evocative covers, though I’m not sure it’s a ‘trend’ just yet.

Any designers or designs that have resonated with you recently?
I’ve been enjoying the work coming from Nicole Caputo, Na Kim, and Rodrigo Corral Studio. Every book cover feels like a fresh new process, a response to the particular brief – and their body of work ends up being an eclectic mix of mediums and styles, which is what I’d hope to build.

Above: Cover designs by Nicole Caputo, Na Kim, and Rodrigo Corral Studio

Favourite ABDA winning book of previous years?
It’s so hard to pick one, but Broken by Stuart Geddes is such a triumph of content, image and production all coming together. Being able to design the experience of someone taking a printed book in their hands is such a privilege, and it’s lovely when you can see the care that has gone into crafting that experience.

Thanks Akiko!

The 2020 winner of the Emerging Designer award will be announced at the 68th ABDA Awards on 20 August 2020.