The 2015 competition drew over 700 submissions from more than a dozen countries. According to Design Observer, judges Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand, and Barbara Glauber “felt the books this year demonstrated astonishing attention to craft, as well as startling ambitions to disrupt expectations about what constitutes a ‘traditional’ book in the first place.”
The Harvard Graduate School of Design’s annual Platform publication is edited by a different GSD faculty member each year; Platform 8 was edited by Zaneta Hong (MLA '07), lecturer in landscape architecture. Each Platform publication also inspires a parallel spring exhibition in Gund Hall’s main exhibition space.
Independently and in harmony with each other, the publication and related exhibition provide an immersion in the ideas and the passion generated at the GSD each academic year.
A spread from Platform 8
Hong structured Platform 8 as an encyclopedic survey in which term entries, each connected to a particular activity or item at the school (including events, courses, publications, and research centers), are presented alphabetically rather than hierarchically. Thus, Hong writes in the Letter from the Editor, the book documents both scholarly discourse and material production as concomitant artifacts of practice, education, and research.
Terms and definitions are punctuated with a collection of portraits and other images throughout the book. The presentation allows for interpretation, imagination, and organizational salience around each term and activity.
“For me, this publication is an effort to simultaneously present an archaeological documentation into the working concepts of design and research—a reveal, exposing a particular moment of design culture at the Harvard GSD—and to provide a projective platform for defining new possibilities,” Hong writes.
To learn more about the 50 Books | 50 Covers competition and see a full list of this year’s winners, please visit Design Observer’s coverage.