Woodrow Wilson Center Designers Win Awards for Creativity and Effectiveness

Jun 15, 2007


WASHINGTON—The Washington Book Publishers 2007 Book Design and Effectiveness Competition, which held its awards ceremony on Tuesday, June 12, featured two Woodrow Wilson Center designers as prize winners. Michelle Furman, visual information specialist at the Center, received a 1st Place award in the "Small to Medium Nonprofit Publishers, Illustrated Covers" category for her design of Reins of Liberation: An Entangled History of Mongolian Independence, Chinese Territoriality, and Great Power (2006), by Xiaoyuan Liu. Lianne Hepler, who heads the Wilson Center graphic design team, won a 3rd Place award in the same category for her work on Rebounding Identities: The Politics of Identity in Russia and Ukraine (2006), edited by Dominique Arel and Kennan Institute director Blair A. Ruble. Both books are published by Woodrow Wilson Center Press, Reins of Liberation in association with Stanford University Press and Rebounding Identities with the Johns Hopkins University Press.

The judges complimented the creativity and the aesthetic quality of these two covers, and they singled out Furman's in particular for its effectiveness in capturing the theme of Reins of Liberation with such a visually stunning photograph. They described the design as well-crafted and striking, and emphasized that it was one of their favorites in this year's competition, which included about 180 books.

"Michelle Furman and Lianne Hepler took two complex and demanding books and gave them evocative and engaging covers. I am delighted that their work has received this recognition," said Joseph Brinley, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center Press.

Furman graduated from West Virginia University in 2001 with degrees in graphic design and political science. She then relocated to New York, where she worked for a small journal publishing group. She has been at the Wilson Center for almost 3 years.

When asked to discuss the process of creating her design, she said: "As always I began by reviewing the text and conducting a photography search with the goal of locating an illustration that would provide the prospective reader with an immediate understanding of the book's general content. In this instance, we chose a National Geographic image by David Edwards showing an eagle hunter from Western Mongolia. Since the strength of the cover lies with this image, my job became easy. I added simple typography that would complement and not interfere with the image. The colors for the typography and interior flaps were also derived from the image." As an in-house graphic designer, Furman's work usually focuses on newsletters and small saddle stitched publications. "It has been a great joy to expand my design work to this new format of case bound books," she stated at the awards ceremony.

Hepler graduated in 2001 from American University with degrees in visual media (film, web, and photography) and graphic design. She then worked as a visual information specialist for the United States Air Force Office of the Civil Engineer in Arlington, Virginia. She has been working at the Wilson Center for the last five years. In speaking about the cover design for Rebounding Identities, Hepler explained that her intention was "to focus on the individual, psychological aspects of national identity, as opposed to political symbols. The layered and skewed face suggests change, duality, and movement. The position of the title over the eyes connotes insight or introspection. The red color alludes to the Soviet era and also represents the possibility of tension."

"It was a wonderful surprise to hear about two awards for our organization," Hepler continued. "I'm pleased that Michelle and I were recognized by our peers as having created covers that communicate effectively. It's also gratifying to see the local design and publishing communities supporting each others' achievements."

The Woodrow Wilson Center Press publishes books by fellows, other resident scholars, and staff written in substantial part at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Titles range from popular accounts of historical topics to fundamental reviews of scholarly fields to authoritative background on important policy issues. For more information about the Press, or to search its backlist of titles, please visit Woodrow Wilson Center Press.

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